‘Why Arik, Aero can’t be national carrier’ | Dailytrust

‘Why Arik, Aero can’t be national carrier’

As the debate over the modality for the proposed national carrier gathers momentum, aviation analyst and former spokesman of the defunct Nigeria Airways, Mr. Chris Aligbe has added his voice to recent call for the conversion of Arik Air and Aero Contractors to a national airline.

Both Arik and Aero are under receivership currently after they were taken over by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Recently AMCON Managing Director, Ahmed Kuru stirred the debate when he suggested that Arik or Aero can be converted to national carrier, saying they are now positioned for profitability.

Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika however rejected the suggestion, saying neither Arik nor Aero is a perfect fit for the kind of national carrier the government plans for.

But adding to the debate, Aligbe of Belujane Konzult urged the Federal Government to reject AMCON’s suggestion.

He said the impression that government owns Arik and Aero is erroneous.

He said, “There are still a few who believe that Aero and Arik are airlines that belong to the government. It is not true. If they were, they would be under Aviation not AMCON that has no statutory responsibility on aviation but rather on debt collection.

“Any attempt to move outside this statute will occasion international litigation that could be unresolved for many years. This is because both the original owners and creditors will head to court to challenge the Federal Government.”

According to Aligbe, both Arik and Aero Contractors were never in the picture when the Nigeria Air project started. He said bringing in the two airlines into the national carrier project would only amount to distraction.

He said, “Even the idea of merging two airlines which the proponents have acknowledged “are not doing well” to form a new national carrier is fraught with so many intractable challenges that will make the product a disaster abinitio. Some of those include, but not limited to the following pertinent questions.

“Can any healthy and virile establishment be founded on the back of unhealthy and struggling entities? Will any sensible investor invest in such establishment?

“Where no investors come, such a national carrier will exist on 100% government equity, just like the liquidated Nigeria Airways. Have we so soon forgotten the bane of Nigeria Airways?

“Can AMCON’s liabilities from Aero and Arik, vicariously or inferentially, be assigned simplicter to the Federal Government? Ditto the assets?

If not, then the argument of Federal Government owning two airlines – Aero and Arik fails to sail.
Have AMCON and Supporter – Proponents stopped to consider the “Outline Business Case” (OBC) of its proposition on the use of Aero-Arik merger to float a national carrier?

“I ask this because in our present dispensation, all such Proposals/Promoters must first submit an OBC to the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Council (ICRC) for evaluation, guidance and approval. For those who are not aware, the Nigeria Air national carrier project had gone through this process, passed two to three approvals by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), successfully concluded the Development stage and was at the Procurement stage in compliance with ICRC approvals and guidance.”

Aligbe noted that though the current leaderships of Arik and Aero are doing their best, both airlines are not fit for national carrier.

“My simple advice to the Minister of Aviation is to just ignore Kuru and his AMCON and move on. The only and major success of AMCON as an institution has been to give the banks a debt-clean slate. Since CBN and NDIC can do this better, AMCON is an unnecessary and poor duplication. It should be wound up,” he added.

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