The planned divestment of the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) from Arik Air and Aero Contractors is causing ripples in the aviation industry.
Already the establishment of the Nigeria Eagle by AMCON has unsettled many amidst fears that the federal government’s recovery agency is planning to take over some Arik aircraft into the new airline.
AMCON in 2017 took over Arik Air over alleged indebtedness by the former owners of the airline. It had in 2016 taken over the management of Aero Contractors, the oldest indigenous carrier.
With both airlines under AMCON’s management, the federal government became the biggest operator in the domestic market. But four years later, there is uncertainty over AMCON’s exit plan in the two airlines.
Last year, speculations were rife about the move by AMCON to rebrand Arik Air into Nigeria Eagle but this was swiftly debunked by the agency.
Its Head, Corporate Communications Department, Jude Nwazor had noted that the corporation currently has more than five airlines in its aviation portfolio, saying the proposed entity has nothing to do with rebranding any of the airlines under it.
According to him, AMCON had approached the NCAA to license “an independent entity where all of its aviation assets would be transferred and efficiently managed in a synergetic manner.”
“AMCON currently has more than five airlines in its aviation portfolio among other assets that are scattered all over.
“The proposed new entity, therefore, has nothing to do with the rebranding of any of the airlines within its portfolio as being speculated in several online publications,” he had said.
Daily Trust learnt that the entity christened, ‘Nigeria Eagle’ was incorporated as NG Eagle Limited RC: 1600277 on July 11, 2019, with a share capital of one billion. The shareholders are AMCON with 499.9 million, while the rest shares are held by other private investors.
Though the NG Eagle is yet to acquire its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), already there is uncertainty over the proposal to transfer some Arik aircraft into the new entity.
There are fears in the industry that such a move could emasculate the airline, after losing its position as the largest airline in the West and Central Africa to Air Peace.
It was learnt that Arik, which had over 30 aircraft earlier now has below 10 serviceable aircraft.
Aviation analyst and former General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye said, “The intent and purpose of AMCON is to make these entities fail so that they can sell them to themselves, create a rogue airline to replace them and life goes on.”
Also speaking, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), an aviation security expert, said the Arik’s problems were worsened by AMCON, which it said: “knows little or nothing about commercial aviation nor economic regulations.”
When contacted yesterday, AMCON’s spokesman, Nwazor, did not respond to the request for clarification on the new entity. Our correspondent put a call through to him and also sent a text message enquiry but got no response.