Arik Air seeks priority vaccination for aviation workers

The new generation aircraft unveiled in Lagos today by Arik Air. PHOTO… SIMON ATEBA

FILE PHOTO: Passengers waiting to board an Arik Air flight

Arik Air

By Taiye Olayemi

Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, Chief Executive Officer, Arik Air, has called for the immediate vaccination of aviation workers as COVID-19 frontline workers.

Ilegbodu made this call when he hosted the Publisher of Atqnews and organiser AKWAABA Africa Travel and Tourism Market, Mr Ikechi Uko, at his office on Wednesday in Lagos.

Ilegbodu, in a statement issued by Uko, said that prompt vaccination of aviation workers would help keep the economy running and enable people to travel knowing they were safe.

Uko was at Arik Air office to deliver an invitation for the annual Abuja Jabamah travellers award which Arik Air had been chosen as the Nigerian airline of the decade, from 2010 to 2020.

He said the award was slated for March 27, as he justified the choice of Arik Air as the airline of choice.

“Arik Air started operations in 2006 and was once the biggest airline in West Africa with 30 aircraft in its fleet.

”’ The fleets were flying to London-UK, New York-USA, Johannesburg, South Africa, Dakar, Senegal, Banjul, Gambia, Accra-Ghana and Dubai-UAE along with numerous domestic operations.

“Today, it flies mainly within Nigeria, from the fleet it inherited, many aircraft are grounded but effectively using six aircraft.

“Since the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) took over the airline in 2017, many of the leased aircraft have been returned to the owners or has been repossessed through court orders.

“Four planes were returned to France, and an European supplier seized two classic aeroplanes abandoned in Europe.

”Out of the two A340 planes, one was parked at the airport in Lagos while the other was in storage in France,” he said.

Uko noted that three aircraft were recovered by the Canadian Export Development Bank, as a B737-800 went for C-check in Lithuania and there was now an attempt by Lufthansa to seize it.

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He said another B737-800 had been abandoned in South Africa and so many creditors were trying to seize as many of the assets as they could lay their hands on.

“In spite of all these troubles, Arik Air is still the biggest airline brand out of Nigeria, even with the shrunk fleet, it is still one of the biggest airlines in West Africa.

“It has three Q400 aircraft, two CRJ-900, one B737-700 and another B737-700 is expected back from checks soon.

“Before AMCON took over Arik, it was indebted to a lot of firms, they are all trying to seize one asset or another, so far, the managers have managed the situation well.

” Arik is in receivership and inherited 2,500 staff but now has 1,600 on payroll, 900 of those are at home because of the COVID-19 lockdown fallout.

”Some are being called back as soon as more activities are added, they are paid some allowances while at home,” he said.

Uko noted that the airline had so far proved resilient as well as demystified the myth that no Nigerian airline with 10 aircraft last beyond 10 years.

He said it was hoped that Arik recovers and grows back to be the pride of Nigeria that it used to be.

” Arik is still a global brand from Nigeria, Kudos goes to the Founders of the Airline and the workers who helped build the brand,” he said.

In his response, Capt. Ilegbodu thanked the organisers for the honour and promised that Arik Air would attend the awards in Abuja.

He also commended the organisers for their consistency in promoting travel and tourism in Nigeria.

NAN