Arik Air indebtedness: FG gives two weeks for dispute resolution

The Minister of State, Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, has given two weeks to managements of all the aviation agencies and Arik Air to resolve all issues relating to indebtedness between them.

Arik Air indebtedness: FG gives two weeks for dispute resolution
Arik Air indebtedness: FG gives two weeks for dispute resolution

This is contained in a statement issued by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Affairs, Ministry of Transportation, Mr James Odaudu, on Thursday in Abuja, following a meeting between the ministry’s authorities and Arik Airline delegation

The statement said that the minister also directed Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and Arik Air to report back with a resolution on amounts owed, payment plans and way forward.

According to the statement, the issue of the alleged indebtedness of Arik Air which has led to disagreements with some trade unions within the regulatory agencies was regrettable.

It warned that the government would not condone lawlessness within the industry, urging all airline operators to conform to industry rules and regulations by paying all applicable fees and fines as at when due.

According to the statement, Sirika also told the Arik Air delegation invited to that the well-being of an airline is measured by its ability to pay for services rendered to it.

He said the goal of the present government was to develop an aviation industry founded on the principles of safety and security of the regulators and airline operators.

The government is also concerned about safety of passengers and their luggage while also putting in place polices that would encourage the growth of domestic airlines.

“I will go beyond my limits to ensure that domestic airlines are encouraged to grow and compete favourably with their foreign counterparts.

“But I will not subvert applicable rules and regulations in favour of any,” the statement quoted the minister as saying.

The minister further said that aviation was the only industry internationally regulated, adding that Nigerian operators must conform to international best practices.

He said that Arik Air and other key players needed to be supported for wider international visibility.

The Chairman of Arik Air, Mr Arumeni Johnson, was said to have decried the frequent disruption of the airline’s operations by trade unions operating at the airports under the guise of its indebtedness to their organisations.

Johnson warned that if the authorities did not stop such practice, it was capable of running down the industry.

He said the airline did not deserve the shabby treatment by the unions as exemplified by the recent picketing of its offices and aircraft at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

“Is it now the duty of the union to seek payment of money owed aviation agencies?

“The union has clearly gone beyond its mandate and we implore the Honourable Minister to intervene.”

The chairman expressed the hope that Sirika, as a thoroughbred aviation professional, would bring his wealth of experience to bear in resolving all the lingering issues between airline operators and industry regulators.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that the airline’s flight operations were disrupted by members of several aviation unions on Wednesday morning over alleged N12.4 billion debt owed FAAN.