Stakeholders in the aviation industry have urged the federal government to ignore the call to convert Arik Air and Aero Contractors under the receivership of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), to a national carrier, saying that the two airlines have huge liabilities.
The stakeholders said the liabilities would discourage investors who would want to take stakes in the planned national airline and requested that government should urgently complete the process for the airline, known as Nigeria Air, primed to compete with other international carriers in the world.
Aviation consultant and CEO of Belujane Konsult, Chris Aligbe who insisted that government must ignore AMCON’s call, said immediate steps should be taken to establish the airline.
Aligbe who made this known in Lagos recently, said there was no going back on the establishment of a new national airline because of booby-traps associated with converting the two airlines Aero and Arik Air, which are privately owned concerns, into a government airline.
He said if the two carriers were owned by government, they would have been taken over by the Ministry of Aviation and not AMCON; which major brief was to recover debts owed by the two organisations.
Aligbe said the option of converting two carriers, which are presently not doing well, into a national carrier would be fraught with a lot of intractable challenges that would serve as disincentive to would be investors.
He said the clamour for national carrier has become imperative because of the grossly inadequate operational strength of current domestic airlines.
“Virtually the entire industry, and indeed, the vast majority of stakeholders are either clamouring for major airline or are desirous of a befitting national carrier. 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 litigations 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. Can any healthy and virile establishment be founded on the back of unhealthy and struggling entities? Will any sensible investor invest in such establishment?” he asked.
Aligbe said if the aforementioned airlines are converted into national carrier, investors would not be willing to put their money in the new company and that would force the new airline to become 100 per cent owned, like the defunct Nigeria Airways, which could not survive government interferences.
Speaking in the same vein, member of aviation industry think tank group, Aviation Round Table (ART) and chief executive of Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd) said the converting the aforementioned airlines to national carrier would weigh the airline down with debts, litigation and other liabilities.