By Lawani Mikairu
Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, has said that the former management of Arik Airlines was basically gambling with the lives of millions of people that patronized it.
The Receiver/ Manager of Arik Air, Mr. Oluseye Opasanya in a document made available to Vanguard accused the former management of not caring about safety because critical issues such as having a simulator, which ensures that Arik pilots undertake mandatory trainings as required to improve their efficiency were non-existent.
According to the report, the airline had inadequate equipment to facilitate its operations, which was reflected by the insufficient laptops available at the airports to conduct basic checks.
“As a matter of fact, the salaries of the expatriate and local staff of Arik were unpaid since October 2015 and July 2016 while the airline owed premiums on its insurance policy because the previous management of Arik took insurance on a monthly basis instead of annually in accordance with aviation global best practice for the insurance of aviation assets.
“Indeed, Arik operations would have been grounded indefinitely if AMCON did not intervene as the insurance policy of Arik was to lapse on February 10, 2017. As at that date, Arik owed a total of N418, 893,067.97 in arrears of unpaid premium just as its employees’ health insurance had also expired and as a result, both the pilots and other members of staff of the airline were to halt operations as well,” the report stated.
On the pension of workers, Opasanya said; “It has also come to the fore that the airline failed to remit pension contributions of its employees despite making the necessary pension deductions from their salaries for which the National Pension Commission had written to demand over N4 billion being the outstanding pension remittance.”
“Aside from that, Arik also owed Lufthansa Technik Group, the company responsible for the maintenance of the airplane a whopping 31 million Euros just to mention a few. Till date the erstwhile management has failed, refused and /or neglected to prepare and submit the statement of affairs of the airline as at the date of the inception of the receivership.’’
According to AMCON, it has injected more than N1.5 billion into the operations of Arik Air since taking over. The corporation however said despite this huge amount, the airline still has negative capital that runs into billions of Naira and new claims continue to come to the fore on daily basis.
In spite of the capital injection, the airline, according to the current management led by Capt. Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu, still incurred a loss of over N1 billion as a result of critical expenditure made in order to sustain the operations of the airline.