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AVIATION ROUND UP: We Took Over Arik Air Rescue It, Says AMCON

February 10, 2017

The Receiver Manager of the flagging commercial carrier, Arik Air, Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, on Thursday, explained that the takeover of Arik Air by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) was done to rescue the airline’s operations and enhance its capacity to provide satisfactory service to passengers.

Mr. Opasanya, who spoke in Lagos shortly after AMCON announced the takeover of the airline on Thursday, said AMCON, following consultations with the Federal Government, appointed him to run the affairs of the airline in a bid to services.

The Receiver Manager also explained that Captain Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu has been made the Managing Director.

“AMCON will ensure that it supports the airline with people of great knowledge and experience to improve the fortunes of the airline,” he said.

The Receiver Manager added that he had informed the airline’s management and staff on the new development and the need to keep the airline alive because it occupies an important position in the country’s aviation industry. He explained that through the media, other stakeholders would be informed of AMCON’s commitment to keeping the airline afloat.

“AMCON is willing to support the operations of Arik Air together with the support of the government to meet the essential needs of the company,” he said.

He added that AMCON would discuss with other creditors, local and foreign, of the airline, with a view to securing their cooperation and commitment.

Mr. Opasanya described Arik Air’s debt to AMCON as huge but declined to give an exact figure.

He stated that AMCON’s goal is to rescue the airline from collapse. He reasoned that talking about the scale of indebtedness may be debilitating to the airline.

“For now, I would prefer not to mention figures. The mission is to rescue the airline, and if we begin to talk about the nature of indebtedness, the information may be harmful. Management believes in the commitment I have made and believe in the airline.

 “The next step is to run the business, make staff happy and keep the airline’s airplanes in the air,” he said.

However, Captain Ado Sanusi, Deputy Managing Director of Arik Air, said the airline would challenge the Federal High Court order directing AMCON to take over the management of the airline.

“We were served with the court order this morning (February 9). Arik Air will comply with the order. The airline has the right to challenge the order and will challenge the court order.

“We might disagree on certain issues, but we have agreed that air operations should continue and not be paralyzed. We will make our position known to our various stakeholders and partners. We will challenge this order to the highest level,” he said

AMCON had earlier announced that the airline has a debt of about N135 billion to it alone, stating that Arik Air, which carries about 55 percent of the country’s passenger load, has been enduring difficult times. The difficulties, explained AMCON, were occasioned by bad corporate governance, erratic operational challenges, inability to pay staff salaries and heavy debt burden among other issues.

FirstNation hits back: Accuses NCAA of regulating aviation through the media


FirstNation Airways, which was recently fined by N33.5million by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has accused the agency of regulating the industry through the media.

The airline was fined a total sum of N33.5 million last weekend because the Pilot-in-Command (PiC) of its two Airbus A319 aircraft (registration number 5N-FNE) had flown with an expired medical certificate. The airline also disclosed that it has filed an appeal against the fine imposed on it and the pilot by NCAA.

The decision to contest the fine was contained in a statement signed by its spokesman, Mr. Rasheed Yusuf. The airline expressed surprise at the NCAA’s decision to rush to the media on Sunday and accused it of  deliberately holding back facts on the matter.

Responding to the NCAA’s claim in its Letter of Investigation (LoI) that the airline feigned ignorance of the law, FirstNation said the sanctioned pilot had a valid medical license at the time of the ramp inspection.

The airline denied committing any infraction, insisting that the fine imposed on it and the pilot was an arbitrary action and in contradiction of with what is prescribed by the relevant section of Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs).

It argued that the spirit of NCARs was corrective and not punitive, adding that it will appeal and seek a review of the imposed. 

“We are surprised that the NCAA press release did not contain the fact that we immediately filed an appeal against the sanctions by the requirements of Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) 1.10. 

“The fact that NCAA elected to go Public on a Sunday, without any need to rush to media, and by deliberately withholding the fact that we have appealed the sanctions by the relevant regulation is in bad faith and showed the authority’s tendency of "regulation by media" in a very sensitive industry.

“It is our position that on the on the day that the said flight was ramp-inspected, the Captain had a valid medical license,” said FirstNation.

The airline added that in its reaction to the LOI from NCAA, it drew its attention to the bureaucracy associated with the general license and medical certificate renewal process and the need for such to be addressed.

But despite its disappointment with the way the NCAA has handled the matter, FirstNation said it would give maximum cooperation to the regulator is bringing about an improvement in the process of medical license renewal.

“Firstnation is committed to best industry practice and respect for regulation and take the safety seriously. Our high safety standard is attested by the fact that the airline is IATA-IOSA certified,” stated the airline.

On Sunday, the NCAA announced that it had fined FirstNation Airways and one of its pilots a total sum of N33.5million. The airline was fined N32million, while the pilot got hammered with a N1.5million fine for being in possession of an expired medical certificate.

The NCAA claimed the pilot’s medical certificate had expired since  November 1 2016, but kept flying. The NCAA said the fines were to be paid within seven days, as failure to do so will attract graver sanctions.

Meridiana Fly reiterates commitment to Nigerian, Ghana markets, introduces night flights

Meridiana Fly, considered as Italy’s fastest growing airline, has restated its commitment to the Nigerian and Ghanaian markets by confirming both routes in its 2017 summer schedule.

 Backed by Ghana’s first affiliated global aviation advisory firm -Dre Aviation and Dana Air, Meridiana Fly debuted on the West African market with a Boeing 767-300 series aircraft and an on-time performance rate of 99.5 per cent.

A statement signed by Dana Air spokesman, Mr. Kingsley Ezenwa, said Meridiana is satisfied with the success it has recorded within the short time for which it has operated.

Mr. Paul Bassam Saade of Dre Aviation told journalists in Lagos that Meridiana came well prepared for its operations and is pleased with the results so far.

 “A prudent approach was taken by Meridiana when entering these highly competitive markets, but we have demonstrated stable operations and a growing commercial presence for them in West Africa and they are pleased with the results," he said.

Mr. Saade added that on account of feedback from its customers, Meridiana has also rescheduled flight times to accommodate a late evening departure from Lagos and arrival in Italy's Milan Malpensa Airport early the next day.

 “This is a compelling proposition as the fares are much cheaper than other carriers into Europe and offers a real alternative for the travelling public. Our fares start at $350 all in for a one-way ticket into Europe," he explained. 

Mr. Saade also disclosed that Dre Aviation is working to ensure more frequency Meridana’s flight operations in both Ghana and Nigeria.


Ethiopian Airlines Gets 3rd A350 XWB Aircraft


Ethiopian Airlines, the leading airline on the African continent, has taken delivery of its third Airbus A350 XWB aircraft. The aircraft is named after Erta Ale, a large basaltic shield volcano located in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia.

The airline took delivery of the aircraft on 1 February.

The new aircraft has 30 Cloud Nine business and 313 economy class seats.

Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, said that the acquisition of the aircraft represents a continuation of the airline’s fleet modernisation program.

Mr. GebreMariam added that with the acquisition of the aircraft, the airline now has a third Airbus A350 XWB 900 and that both the Boeing B787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A-350 are currently the world’s most technologically advanced aircraft.

The plane, he explained, will enhance comfort and reduce jet lag after long flights.

“We are highly delighted that we are one of the very few airlines in the world to own and operate both airplanes at their early stage in service. Ethiopian Airlines customers will have the special privilege of experiencing the superior features and services of both airplanes.

“These environmentally green airplanes are enabling us to expand our vast network to new and exciting destinations like Oslo in Norway, Singapore, Chengdu in China, Jakarta in Indonesia, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Antananarivo in Madagascar.

“On board this game-changing aircraft, passengers will experience the latest high-definition touchscreen personal monitors with even more movies, television series, and audio channels. Passengers will also enjoy the wider seats and larger windows, the lowest twin engine noise level in the skies, advanced air conditioning technology, and full LED mood lighting,” he said.


SAA offers free Business Class tickets to celebrate Abuja-Jo’Burg flights anniversary


One of Africa’s most decorated Airlines, South African Airways, is offering passengers free Business Class tickets to commemorate the first anniversary of non-stop flight service from Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to O.R Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.

The initiative is targeted at couples or business partners flying from Abuja. Passengers are required to purchase one South African Airways Business Class ticket and would be immediately rewarded with issue two Business Class tickets.

The announcement of the commemorative offer was contained in a statement issued by the airline’s media consultant in Nigeria.

According to the statement, the free Business Class ticket gesture is to show appreciation loyal and prospective passengers.

After over 15 years of flying Nigerians from Lagos to Johannesburg and beyond, the airline introduced the Abuja – Johannesburg flight in January 2016 with three weekly flights.

Nigeria is an important market for South African Airways. Early in December 2016, the airline introduced a new Airbus 330 – 300 aircraft on the Lagos – Johannesburg route.