Arik Air halts all domestic flights

Arik Air’s operations at Lagos Airport were disrupted this morning by the labour unions, consequently all domestic flights are cancelled and hundreds of travellers remained stranded throughout the country. The unions claim that the airline owes N17 billion to various aviation agencies and airport authorities, but Arik Air blames the ‘persistent hostility of the Ministry of Aviation and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) management’. It’s not clear whether the Federal Government grounded Arik Air or that the flight suspension is indeed the result of industrial action.

Arik Air released a statement:

Due to an action by the FAAN Union at the General Aviation Terminal in Lagos, we are sorry to advise our passengers that all domestic flights by Arik Air are cancelled for today Thursday 20 September. This information will be updated once we hear of any change. Passengers who have tickets to travel today will be re-booked on available flights once operations resume.

Yesterday, Arik Air announced it has carried 10 million passengers since it began operations. Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Aviation asked the Minister of Aviation to designate Arik Air as Nigeria’s national flag carrier, until the new national carrier becomes functional at the end of the year.

Update 1: Arik Air halts all domestic operations. Arik Air has suspended all its domestic flights indefinitely. MD Chris Ndulue claims that the Minister of Aviation and others are trying to destroy the airline for their own financial benefit. The airline denies being indebted to the aviation authorities, and argues that it cannot continue to operate in a hostile environment.

Update 2: This article gives a good overview of the blame game. According to Joe Obi, Stella Oduah’s spokesman, Arik Air’s allegations are ‘completely untrue, unfounded and malicious’. He said Arik was using the disruption of their flights as an excuse to try and escape paying money they owed to the federal government.

Update 3: Arik Air will not operate domestic flights on 21 September 2012, but international flights operate as scheduled.

Update 4: The Central Bank of Nigeria has barred Arik Air and Aero of receiving any new loans over the massive loans – it was revealed today that Arik owes AMCON N85,5 billion, while Aero owes N32,5 billion. According to the CBN any bank that gives loans to companies or individuals on the AMCON debtors’ list loans will face serious fines from the Federal Government.

Update 5: On Friday evening, the labour unions called off their action against Arik Air and FAAN declared that the airline is free to resume its operations. All involved parties are invited for a meeting at Abuja on Saturday by the Federal Government. Arik Air announced that it will resume its domestic flight services on Sunday.

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20 responses to “Arik Air halts all domestic flights”

  1. Eze says :

    God forbid the civil servants being denied their free tickets to London! All centered on narrow self intetest. Now the real question: Are they out of their mind about a new national airline? Govt doesnt belong in the airline industry. Shut your mouths and provide a conducive environment and good mininum standard airports!

    • LAF says :

      If govt doesn’t belong in there, then why always the ‘conducive environment’ chorus. To be balanced, you’d have to copy and paste that chorus to several other sectors as well. Aviation is not special; you have zoom out to look at wider organizational, policy, management and system issues.

      It’s not as though Arik are unawre of their operating environment. Could it be possible there’s still room for them to drastically improve and independently empower themselves and innovate their way forward?

      Our govt owned Ethiopian friends whose are doing okay. Not under any illusion it’s all rosy but there’s a working system in place and they are reaping the benefits of that.

      Right now, in the strictest sense, Nigeria has nothing close to to a full service airline that’s up to the task and can measure up against current continental leaders nor the. They still have a lot of work to do to get there.

      There’s a study on family-owned airlines. Will give a shout if I can get a hold of it.

  2. User Abuja (@UserAbuja) says :

    Why are local airlines indebted in Nigeria? This is really sad and unfortunate. The can of worms embedded in the joke called Nigeria is unimaginable. Air Nigeria, EAS, ADC, Chachangi and the list goes on and on, have at one time flew the domestic airspace of Nigeria at on time or the other but pare no more for either safety or financial reasons. The country and her citizens are groaning under an intense pain alas there is no help from anywhere.

    Even ‘Andrew’ that wanted to check out some years back is on sick bed… And know one really offering help.

    Read that the govt plans massive purchase of national flags to inspire patriotism and can only ask myself, where is this ship headed?

    • Anonymous says :

      Nigeria is a JOKE. Look at ET, KQ, SA, and numerous other smaller airlines in Africa, their airline industry is functional with at least one identifiable, large flag carrier. Nigeria limps on…The giant of africa my a#$ More like the cesspool of Africa!

  3. Kayode o says :

    Federal government must come to rescue of national cariers like arik to forestal bankruptcy,airlines must be focused and reduce their recurrent expenses in other to compete favourably with foreing counterpart.

  4. Anonymous says :

    Nigerians will continue to wallow in poverty, with a weak economy and aviation sector, until they demand accountability and transparency from their governments both at state and federal level.

  5. Oladunjoye Paul Taiye says :

    Please let Arik Airline operate condusively & let investigation continue without distrubting their flight operations especially the domestic airpassenger, they all have ends which has to be met. Let their be resolution of disputes among those concerned. Passenger’s interest should be prioritized….

  6. Naijajet says :

    Paul Arik can’t grow as an institution if the “Hate” paying their creditors when due….Arik is trying to black mail the government and the people because they have a monopoly.
    Well this when we have a weak Government that is wholly concerned to settling people and not solving problems.

  7. Aviation in Nigeria says :

    According to a recent released list: Arik Air owes AMCON N85,5 billion, while Aero owes N32,5 billion and Caverton N6,5 billion.

    Source: http://serving.thisdaylive.com/0BEF99D6-ACF5-4E2C-9779-8FA02BA3FCD4/assets/TD-Amcon.pdf

    Interestingly, Arik’s MD claimed during a press conference yesterday that Lufthansa declined to enter in a partnership with the Ministry of Aviation to set up a new national carrier.

    • LAF says :

      Avi, how about stringintg together design team for a concept airline system not looking at names or faces but just based on present economic and market realities, to try to model what a design airline could look like?

      Model various carrier concepts, from true low cost to full service and everything in-between. There are more than enough chumps out there to put (good) heads together on such for a few weeks.

      Squawk,

      Cheers

  8. Greg says :

    I agree with Olagunjoye, that passengers’ needs should be prioritized. Afterall, most of the big shots in this country, still don’t own private jets (they even have a pet name for it now: “PJ”!) Let’s see how many days of breathing down Goodluck’s neck it will take to get Stella to do something!

  9. Greg says :

    Dear sirs, the idle reach amongst us have extended PJ to private jets, would you believe it. Source was the sunday glamour pull-out in an edition of Thisday some months back. A roll call of PJ owners. The Dangotes, Adenugas and Dantatas didn’t surprise me; what did was more than a dozen names I ‘d never heard of, and who, from the tone of the piece, were young, well educated, privileged and with more bucks than they knew what to do with. The casualness of it could only elicit a “well, that’s just the way it goes in dear Nigeria”. Okay o.

  10. Alaba says :

    Why is it important to have a national carrier? We already have several flag carriers. Radical thoughts here: Lets just boost general aviation and help airlines with six to 16 seaters.
    Let government set up a fund to be given to Nigerian focussed air lines (those who use local nationals, are interested in setting up training and maintenance centres).
    For now, let government compel the air force to carry commercial traffic in the G22s, C130s and smaller aircraft, and even hire out the presidential jets for revenue.
    Its easy to design what a model Nija airline should be but the implementation is the issue.
    Im writing this stuck in an airport in Europe thanks to some dummy who ran off the runaway in my home airport.

    • LAF says :

      Several good reasons which extend well beyond the direct sector, when done properly. With my kindergargarten level working knowledge of the prevailing business culture, it’s safer to have out the hands of family-type business anto a more ‘neutral’, purpose-built entity that helps foster a better sense of ownership among all Nigerians.

      As a guiding thought: recally a number of promising Nigerian companies that have since gone rather than grow into successful business empires because of these type of things. We need to get to a stage where founders learn fall back after a stage and let better heads run things.

      Naturally, with a good carrier design this also implies successful implementtation since pretty much every dummy knows what the challenges are but how to really practically fix things is still the issue. Get this done,and you’ve won the jackpot.

  11. Greg says :

    Alaba, I was amazed to hear on int news some months back, the decision by the Algerian govt to favour local businesses at the expense of foreign ones. I must have gaped for several minutes. My brother, Algerian authorities actually care for their patriots. Are you actually suggesting our officials do the same here? What, don’t you still know that the typical government official thinks that deploying national resources to promote your business is doing you a favour (no, it’s not your right), and that at any rate, the primordial instinct is still “to promote the other guy is to demote myself”? Wake up, man. Some folks like you know the right thing but believe me, the breeze out here flows in the opposite direction. That’s the hard, if unfortunate, reality

  12. Alaba says :

    Greg & LAF
    Depressing really. I take it we are agreed that this prevailing wind must be changed.
    Our aviation sector is a constant state of flux and negative change. The free for all of the late 80s and 90s hasn’t shaken out the problems in the system and left us with a solid base to work from. Other than checking monopoly, safety and taxes, should government intervene in the operations of private airlines? Should the Central Bank be telling private banks (in the hands of private investors and shareholders who should challenge) who and what airlines to lend their money to?
    How much longer do we claim we are still developing at the age of 52? This acceptance of poor standards goes back to our so called founding fathers who laid the grounds for crookery, ineptude and looking out for number one.

    • LAF says :

      With the acceptance of poor standards entrenched in the culture, it’s as bit like we have the avi sector we deserve.

      I don’t think it needs another 52 years to get it right; perhaps within 10 years is not crazy but possible provided………………(fill in the blanks).
      And of course, it all starts with individual enlightenment.

      At the end it will be really impressive if the instrumental changers aren’t necessarily aviation freaks but people who problem solving skills.like multiple-successful coaches who always add value to whatever team they coach, no matter the duration of their tenure with the team.
      And the good news is they are out there, only we need more of them. if not 160 million, then a sizable fraction of that.

      Let’s fly this thing.

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