Despite the disparaging comments making the round, Arik Airline says it has completed the repayment of the loans it secured from Nigerian and overseas banks for the purchase of its aircraft.
It maintained that the payment for two aircrafts will be completed in the first quarter of this year, saying it has not defaulted in the payment of its loans for the purchase of aircraft from the loan it secured from external financial institutions.
Chairman of Arik Air, Sir Joseph Ikhide Arumeni, who disclosed this noted the airline is indebted to the United States Exim Bank, the Export Development Bank of Canada and other European credit agencies.
According to him, these financial institutions need Nigerian banks to act on their behalf and pass the funds to Nigerian banks, adding “this is to put in perspective that Zenith Bank and another has assisted Arik Air in paying for its pre-delivery payment for some of the aircrafts”.
Arumeni explained that because of the risk profile of Nigeria, the duration for the payment of loans is reduced to between five and seven years as opposed to between 15 and 20 years for other countries with low risk profile, a development he affirmed creates a wider window for airline operators to benefit from such credit facilities.
“I can challenge anybody anywhere that Arik Air is servicing its loan to all the banks and credit organizations. We are not indebted to any organisation. Most of the comments that are making the round are coming from people who are not sufficiently informed about current operational developments in the industry”, he stressed.
The Arik Chairman said the airline is not indebted to the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), pointing out that the airport authority is yet to respond to the request by the carrier to pay for the cost of repairing its aircraft damaged last year at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar.
He decried comments by some players in the industry, who as he puts it, indulge in branding the carrier a debtor, saying it would have negative impact on the industry as it could affect the ability of other operators to secure funding from international credit organizations.
Said Arumeni: “it is wrong for anybody to insinuate that Arik Air is getting the aircraft earlier booked for by other foreign carriers which could not meet up due to the financial meltdown. That is complete falsehood based on lack of inadequate information. Arik Air placed order for its aircraft according to specifications endorsed by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)”.
“Arik Air does not owe any independent fuel marketer billions. Those who are alleging should furnish us with the figures. Even FAAN, we are not owing them, the only issue we need to resolve is the over N1.9 billion we spent to repair one of our aircrafts that was hit by a car at the Calabar airport last year,” Arumeni declared.
COVID-19: Arik Airline Sacks 300 Staff
At least 300 staff of Arik Air have been relieved of their appointments by the airline’s management.
This was announced in a statement by the airline on Friday.
It blamed the sacking on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The press statement was titled, “Arik Air management declares 300 staff redundant”.
The company explained that a redundancy package would be provided for the affected workers with the help of the aviation unions.
The statement read in part, “Arising from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the constrained ability of the airline to complete heavy maintenance activities and return its planes to operations, stunted revenues against increasing operational costs, the management of Arik Air (In Receivership) has declared 300 staff members redundant to its current level of operations.
“The leadership of the impacted unions has been contacted to negotiate a redundancy package for the affected staff.”
The airline added that over 50 per cent of its workforce of over 1,600 staff have been on furlough in the past six months.
In a separate statement also forwarded to our correspondent by its Public Relations and Communications Manager, Banji Ola, the airline apologised to passengers whose travel plans were disrupted by the protest carried out by the National Union of Air Transport Employees on December 3, 2020.
The picketing disrupted operations in Lagos and prevented the airline from processing passengers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport Domestic Terminal 1 and 2.
S’East Leaders Laud FG Over EndSARS
South-East leaders on Saturday, lauded the Federal Government on the matured and responsive manner it handled all issues relating to the EndSARS protest and agitation.
The leaders of the zone, which included Governors, Senators, House of Representatives members as well as traditional, religious and youth leaders, gave the commendation in a communiqué issued after their meeting with a Presidential delegation in Enugu.
The presidential delegation was led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, who is the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We thank President Buhari for the speed and restraint with which he handled the EndSARS protest, which has engendered peace throughout the country, especially the South-East.
“We, therefore, request the President to look into demands of various groups and youths with a view to resolving them,’’ the statement, which was read by the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, Governor Dave Umehi, said.
It also called for joint operation by security agencies and local vigilant groups into all forests in the zone to flush out criminals and killer herdsmen with AK47 rifles.
“But we pledge our commitment to continuous coexistence with peaceful herdsmen who have been living peacefully with us.
“We stand for an indivisible and united Nigeria, built on love, fairness, equity and justice. We believe that under this platform – NIGERIA; we are bigger and stronger,’’ it said.
It also called on the Federal Government to continue its support and diplomatic push for the former Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to be elected as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The statement thanked the Federal Government for the timely interventions in Akanu Ibiam International Airport rehabilitation as well as intervention in road infrastructures in the zone.
“We are grateful for the attention given to the second Niger Bridge and completion and inauguration of the Zik’s mausoleum.
“However, we urge the Federal Government to give attention to the completion of the current road projects within the zone,’’ it said.
The statement said that the states in the zone will provide money for the compensation for those affected by the EndSARS protest, help to rebuild police stations and their logistics; while engaging the youths constantly to forestall any violent development in the zone.
“We have plans to set up various empowerment programmes to gainfully engage the youths. The governors also plan to mainstream the youths in their governance to give them a sense of belonging.
Minister Hails Meeting With S’East Leaders
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has described as “extremely fruitful” the meeting which a presidential team had with leaders and stakeholders of the South-East.
“The meeting of the presidential delegation with South-East leaders was very useful,’’ Mohammed told journalists on Sunday in Enugu.
The delegation, led by Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, met for more than eight hours in Enugu with selected South-East leaders.
Mohammed said that it was quite instructive that all the groups which took part in the meeting believed in the unity and oneness of the country, pointing out that they clearly spelt out this in their presentations.
“We listened clearly and carefully to all the positions and demands and we are going back to report directly to President Buhari,’’ the minister said.
He noted that the Federal Government had been spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country, simultaneously and equitably.
“We want the South-East people to be confident that the Federal Government is spreading development and infrastructure to all parts of the country equitably and will never marginalise any zone in the ongoing development and infrastructure agenda.
“This is what I want to assure Nigerians living in the South-East,’’ Mohammed noted.
According to the minister, when the team gets back to Abuja it will see what can be done immediately concerning some of the positions and demands made by the South-East leaders.
The presidential delegation met with South-East governors, statesmen, elders, religious and traditional leaders, as well as market women and youth leaders.
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