The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has called on the Federal Government to adopt Arik Air as a national carrier. The Managing Director, Mr Ahmed Kuru made this call when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions led by Uba Sani, Chairman of the Committee and Orji Kalu, the Chief Whip of the Senate and Deputy Chairman of the committee.
Kuru noted that AMCON has made huge success in saving Arik from collapse by restructuring the airline on the path of growth and profitability.
He said the National Assembly should, therefore, ensure that the government leverages on the potential of the airline as a stepping stone towards setting up a national carrier rather than trying to set up a new airline brand from the scratch.
He said, “I call on the 9th National Assembly to reform the aviation sector, which would help local airline grow and attract many other investors that are eying Nigeria’s huge aviation business opportunity.
“I recalled how respite came the way of Arik Airlines, which was immersed in a heavy financial debt burden that threatened to permanently ground the airline when AMCON took over and restructured the operations of the airline.
“With the right support and investment, Arik has all it takes to become a massive airline given the volume of reformative and transformational work AMCON did upon intervention in 2017. But to do that, the National Assembly owes it a duty to reform the aviation sector by reducing the different layers of charges by different agencies, which makes it extremely difficult for airline to survive in the country.
“Arik has enough aircraft and facilities that can be used to set up a new airline. Even if the government wants to set up a national carrier to service just the domestic market, which currently has a lot of gap, it is possible with what Arik currently has. Today if you want to travel to Lagos from Abuja and you did not book your ticket two or three days earlier, the chances are that you may not get a seat, which tells us that there is a serious gap.”
The AMCON boss stated that the federal government will be spending a huge fortune on getting a new airline, and considering the nation’s financial status, it may be a bit difficult to achieve this.
Mr Kuru said such reform will enable airlines such as Arik remain in business for years to come.AMCON took over Arik Air in February 2017 and the airline was subsequently placed in receivership, following its inability to repay debts in excess of N300 billion to AMCON and other creditors in Nigeria and around the world.
Mr Sani on his part noted that the committee needed to have a deeper understanding of what AMCON represents and that explains why they weere called upon. that the management of AMCON was invited to provide the committee with an in-depth and holistic understanding of operations and activities of AMCON. He said AMCON and its operations are critical to the stabilisation of the Nigerian financial sector.
According to him, AMCON within the period of its establishment, has indeed stabilised the financial industry with its action and has provided succour to financial lending institutions in the country when it acquired majority of the non-performing loans of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the country.
Declaring that the heavy debt burden of AMCON has become a burden to the federal government, which is no longer unacceptable, Mr Sani disclosed that the 9th Senate is ready and has resolved to render its support to ensure that AMCON’s primary focus of revitalising and stabilising the nation’s economy are realised within reasonable time frame.
He said the committee will deepen its collaboration with AMCON to enable the corporation to recover all government assets both physically and financially and return same to the federal government.