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Aviation workers ground Arık Air over N12. 4bn debt

Arik needs N10b to bounce back, only 9 of its 30 aircraft operational, AMCON says

It was a bad day on Wednesday for one of Nigeria’s airlines, Arik Air, as its operations were disrupted by by members of several aviation unions over an alleged N12.4 billion debt owed the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.

Reports say several passengers were stranded at the General Aviation Terminal, GAT, of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, where Arik Air operates from in Lagos. Some of the passengers demanded a refund from the airline staff while others were making alternative arrangements.

 

The unions said they resorted to blocking the airline from operating this morning after years of negotiating with the airline over the debt failed to yield any result.

 

Some of the placards have captions like: “Arik Pay Your 12.4bn Debt”, “FAAN can no longer pay salaries, pension, staff claims due to your debt.” “Debtors pay all you owe FAAN now.” “Arik if you can’t pay don’t fly”, “Arik pay your debt 12.4bn is too much.”

Read also: I am not for naira devaluation, Dangote says

 

On the action by the unions, the General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Olayinka Abioye, in a statement said: “We are engaged in picketing exercise against Arik Air over its indebtedness to FAAN in the sum of N12.5b”.

 

The airline, through its spokesperson, Ola Banji, however described the claim that it owed FAAN N12.4 billion as “spurious”, adding that the airline was already in court challenging the claim. He also claimed that blocking the operations of the airline amounts to the aviation workers taking laws into their hands.

 

“The workers’ union is connected with the long-standing and unsubstantiated claim by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) of spurious indebtedness of the airline to the agency which is now before a Federal High Court in Lagos at the instance of FAAN.

 

“For several months, the management of Arik Air and FAAN have been meeting to reconcile payment accounts between the two institutions. The reconciliation process is still ongoing until the latest actions by the union.

 

“This is not the first time that FAAN workers’ union will be taking the laws into their hands by disrupting operations of Arik Air.

 

“The current situation is deeply out of control of Arik Air and the management of the airline has been compelled to suspend all domestic operations for today. This will remain in force until such a time the unfortunate situation is resolved.”

 

 

 

 

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