At a time many domestic carriers are closing shop, a team from the African Export and Import Bank (AFRI-EXIM) has visited Arik Air, pledging to support the carrier to keep its operations afloat.
The visit of the continental bank, its President Dr Okey Oramah said, is part of efforts to support businesses in Africa which facilitate trade and the movement of people across boundaries.
He said the bank from inception assisted Arik to secure funds to acquire some aircraft. The airline has kept faith in the repayment of the facility, Oramah said, adding that the airline has done well with the funds injected into it.
He promised that the bank will be favourably disposed to extending further assistance to Arik Air.
Oramah also said another reason for the visit was to carry out a financial oversight on its Corporate Governance rules, noting that the team was pleased with what they saw in Arik.
He said: “Arik is a long-standing client of our bank . So, our board took the opportunity of being here in Lagos to visit Arik Air to see the airline’s operations. It has been a mutually-rewarding partnership, since we supported the airline to acquire some aircraft many years ago when it began operations. And Arik Air has lived up to our expectations.
“So what we came here to do is to see what they are doing and also listen to them on their future plans, this is because as a bank, we are promoting intra – African trade, we regard Arik as a strategic partner in the promotion of African business. This is because of the role they are playing in connecting Africa ,and making sure goods are delivered within Africa.
“So, we want to make sure they are strengthened to carry out that business. We also understand the difficulties of the operating environment, not only in Nigeria, but in many African countries.
“At this time, as a bank created to support such situations, we have to be briefed about any difficulties the airline is going through and how we can support them to ride through such difficulties.”
Also speaking, the Chairman of Arik Air, Sir Arumemi Ikhide, said the AFri-Exim Bank visited the airline to benchmark its operations with the loan it gave many years ago.
He praised the bank for supporting Arik since inception, saying the measure served as part of the institutional support the carrier has enjoyed over a decade .
He said: “Many international financial institutions and organisations have supported us since we started operations over ten years ago.” He said the bank’s team came to see how the airlines is carrying out its operations.
“We showed them our books , told them about our expansion plans. It was a good opportunity for the bank to get acquainted with our operations, get first knowledge about difficulties in aviation business and emerging challenges and how they could be of help.
“Do not forget the bank was set up to promote African businesses, especially intra – African trade across the countries, which is part of our mandate in Arik Air,“ pointing out thatThe team also looked at the airlines future plan.