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Following the dramatic takeover of Airk Air by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the immediate secondment of its deputy managing director as the substantive managing director of Aero Contractors, the Association of Concerned Aviation Professionals (ACAP) has raised an alarm, accusing the agency of inching towards merging both airlines to berth a new national carrier.
Secretary of ACAP, Justin Nwokolo, said his group strongly believed that this course of action was motivated by “the pursuit of a cabal’s selfish interest masquerading as public good with the deployment of a ruthless propaganda machine to give it a gloss.”
He queried “How laughable that the same AMCON hired the erstwhile Deputy Managing Director of the same management it accused of ‘poor corporate governance’ as new CEO of Aero Contractors on the very day it forcibly took over the company. Who is fooling who?
“The agenda is to bring together Arik Air and Aero to form what they call a new national carrier and bring in Ethiopian Airways as technical partner. What a shame! We bring a smaller country like Ethiopia to run a national carrier for Nigeria, the supposed Giant of Africa? If government could run an airline, Nigeria Airways would not have gone under,” ACAP averred.
However, in a swift response to the damming allegation, Head of Corporate Communications, Jude Nwauzor, said the claims were figments of some people’s imagination, as the aim of AMCON’s intervention was to save the airline from collapse and normalise it operations.
He insisted that the new management had started with receiving briefs from different departments, coupled with KPMG auditing the airline.
According to Nwauzor, “We have hired KPMG to look into the financials of Arik with a tooth comb and advise us with verifiable facts on what went wrong with the airline. We need to do that because the outcome will help us plug the loopholes and stabilise the airline. That is what we are doing now and focused on. We have no agenda to nationalise the airline.”
Corroborating AMCON’s action, Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs, Aviation Ministry, James Odaudu, explained that the government only intervened in Arik in order to save the carrier from collapse, claiming that the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had never given any indication suggesting that Arik and Aero will be converted to a national carrier.
Business Hilights recalls that AMCON had early last week annexed the largest carrier in West and Central Africa, alleging massive non-performing loan profile, bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges, inability to pay staff salaries and heavy debt burden among others.
But informed stakeholders have expressed mixed feelings about the development, reasoning that there is a nocturnal plan by AMCON to merge the distressed airline with Aero Contractors to become Nigeria’s new national carrier after the defunct Nigeria Airways.