The Federal Government has issued a two-week ultimatum to Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, and the Arik Air Group to resolve all issues relating to indebtedness between the organisations.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, gave the directive at a meeting with the management of Arik Air in Abuja yesterday. He directed the parties to report back to him after the two-week ultimatum, with a resolution on the amounts owed, payment plans and the way forward.
According to the minister, the issue of alleged indebtedness by Arik Air that has led to disagreements with some trade unions within the regulatory agencies was highly regrettable, adding that while government will not condone lawlessness within the industry, all airline operators must conform to industry rules and regulations. These, he said, include the payment of applicable fees and fines as at when due.
Arik Air, however, said it had paid the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, N18.9 billion of its indebtedness to the agency and had resumed services after Wednesday’s disruption of its operations by unions in the industry. The fee paid, according to the airline covers the service charge from 2006 when it began operations till June 2015.
Managing Director of the airline, Chris Ndulue, who disclosed this at a press briefing in Lagos, refuted FAAN’s claim that Arik Air is owing the agency N12.5 billion, the alleged indebtedness workers in the aviation industry used as an excuse to shut down the airline’s operation on Wednesday. He presented a letter dated February this year from the agency to Arik where the regulator acknowledged that the airline had paid N11.4 billion.
He alleged that the airline was being singled out for persecution, wondered why it had continued to be the only target of attack by FAAN even when other airlines were indebted to it.
Meanwhile Arik said it had resumed both domestic and international operations it suspended on Wednesday as a result of the actions of the union.