21st September, 2012
Simon Ateba/Aviation Correspondent
Nigeria’s Federal Government on Friday summoned Arik Air and aviation agencies to a meeting on Saturday in Abuja, the country’s capital, to clarify the indebtedness of Nigeria’s largest airline to the agencies.
“The invitation was extended to all stakeholders and since we are a major stakeholder, we will be present,” said Olayinka Abioye, Deputy General Secretary, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN.
“I don’t know yet what time the meeting will take place,” Abioye said.
Arik Air was grounded on Thursday and Friday after protesters stormed the General Aviation Terminal in Lagos, southwest Nigeria, where it operates and locked the boarding gate, vowing not to allow passengers in until the paid its debts to their employers.
Arik Air had claimed that it owes N1.6 billion to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, and the National Airspace Management Agency, NAMA.
However, the agencies had said that Nigeria’s biggest airline owes them at least N18 billion.
While protesting on Thursday, union leaders distributed a statement alleging in it that Arik Air owes FAAN at least N7 billion and N5 billion to NAMA. They said Arik Air also owes NCAA N4 billion and $400,000, bringing the total to over N17 billion.
On Friday night, it was not clear when Arik will resume operations as the airlines’ spokesperson, Mr. Banji Ola, said in a text message that the resumption will take place after the meeting.
“The Federal Government has called for a meeting in Abuja tomorrow (Saturday) and we hope to issue a statement on the resumption of operations after the meeting,” he said.