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.