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AMCON sets up new airline to recover Arik’s debts

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Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria has said that in order to recover its huge debts from Arik Air, it injected over N375 billion in the airline and established another carrier, NG Eagle, expected to run along with Arik Air.

AMCON said it had sustained Arik Air operations since 2017 when it took over in order to stabilise the aviation industry and save jobs.

After its debts recovery, it hinted that it might sell NG Eagle to private investors or through the stock exchange.

Arik Air Receiver Manager, Mr. Kamilu Omokide, in an interview with THISDAY, said, “AMCON came into Arik in February 2017, during the economic recession. At that time, Arik did not have operational funds.

“The workers faced an uncertain future. All the aircraft were grounded because their insurance premium had expired; that at a time the airline did not operate because of insurance.

“Before AMCON came, Lufthansa, which provided technical service to the airline, had walked away. The airline was no more creditworthy to the extent that fuel suppliers shunned the airline.

“It was only MRS that allowed credit to the airline and it had a maximum of N33 million. This was too small for an airline of that size of Arik. So there was no fuel to operate the flights.”

Omokide, who was seconded to Arik by AMCON, said the airline would be operated along with NG Eagle, at least till the end of 2021, adding that with the support of AMCON, plans had been concluded to acquire three aircraft for Arik through wet leasing.

He said, “Arik does not plan to get out of business. It will operate side-by-side with NG Eagle for a while. We have been able to access wet leases and we have been able to run them very professionally. AMCON is not taking all the planes. We have a plan to bring three more planes with the support of AMCON on wet lease, ACMI.

“We are not rushing to kill Arik. We cannot pull all of our aircraft from Arik. Arik will be sustained throughout this year. Arik has a very big space at its headquarters that can take in four airlines on a good arrangement where costs can be shared.

“So Arik has huge facility; it has good workers who are experienced and we have been training staff since AMCON took over, something that was rare in the past. In fact, we have exposed the workers to all kinds of training. Our pilots are some of the best in the industry. Experience is very important,” he added.

He said Arik Air would have gone under without the intervention of AMCON in 2017, noting that the corporation adopted a different strategy in Arik, otherwise, it would have closed the company and sold the assets.

However, he said because of the sensitive nature of the aviation industry and the critical role of the sector as a catalyst to the nation’s economy, it decided to sustain the airline’s operations.

He stated that when AMCON took over, many of its aircraft were overseas on mandatory maintenance because there was no money to bring them back.

He added that creditors were closing in on the airline, with flight cancellation as high as 40 per cent to the extent that passengers mobbed the headquarters of the airline demanding refund of their fares.

“So, the decision of AMCON to intervene was nationally imperative in order to save the airline because of the critical role it was playing; to stabilise the industry and to rescue our funds. AMCON realised that it would take a lot of stabilisation and decided to take its own planes and move them to NG Eagle,” he said.

He said NG Eagle would be a formidable airline, which would eventually be sold to either government or other investors.

According to him, AMCON will treat the NG Eagle as a private sector initiative.

“If the government decides to buy it, that will be good; or we go for the private sector option or we sell it through the stock exchange,” he added.

Omokide said AMCON might not repair all the aircraft it inherited.

He, however, said the corporation had identified those it would repair, and it would either sell the Airbus A340-500 or convert them to cargo planes.

“We do not think we can repair all the planes we met on the ground. We have identified the ones we can repair and sell the other. We plan to sell the A340-500 or convert it to cargo planes. One of the two A340-500 is being preserved. So we are looking at options of cargo,” he said.

Aviation

United Airlines to begin US-Nigeria flights on Nov 29

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United Airlines says it will begin flight operations from the Virginia, United States, to Lagos, Nigeria on November 29.

The announcement came via the verified Twitter account of the US Mission in Nigeria on Saturday.

According to the tweet, the airline operation will commence on November 29.

It stated that the “nonstop flights” will fly from Dulles international airport, Virginia, to Lagos, adding that the “tickets will be available for booking in a few days.”

“Awesome! A welcome addition to increasing the burgeoning connections between the US and Nigeria!” the tweet read.

“We are pleased to see that United Airlines will launch from Dulles International Airport to Lagos starting November 29. Tickets will be available for booking in a few days,” it stated.

The United Airlines stated that it would operate flights on Monday, Thursday and Saturday every week.

The tweet stated that the flight — Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays — would be undertaken on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

“Make room for one more, Dulles Airport! Our nonstop to Lagos, Nigeria, is now for sale,” it stated.

“The first flight takes off November 29, with service on a 787-8 on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.”

 

 

 

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NiMET predicts three-day heavy rains from today, flight disruption

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The Nigeria Meteorological Agency has alerted to flight disruption in coming days, predicting heavy rains in parts of the country, mostly in the North, from Tuesday to Thursday.

Newstrends reports that domestic flights going out of Lagos to other parts of the country on Friday were delayed for many hours as a result of persistent downpour.

NiMET, in its weather forecast numbered 202109023 released on Monday, said heavy rains would be experienced in parts of Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Niger states.

It also said moderate rainfall would be witnessed in parts of Yobe, Kwara, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Lagos, Edo, Delta, Taraba, Adamawa, Ekiti, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Abia, Imo, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

According to NiMET, light rains are expected over the rest of the country.

It however said due to the presence of good amount of soil-moisture and the expected heavy rainfall, there are increased chances of flashflood events on roads, settlements, farmlands and bridges.

This is in addition to chances of reduced horizontal visibility which can disrupt vehicular traffic and flight operations.

“Hence, the public is advised to exercise restraint, avoid low-lying areas and fast flowing runoff waters,” the forecast said.

NiMET also predicted the possibility of moderate rainfall events leading to slippery roads, reducing travel time, with increased likelihood of cars skidding off the road and chances of crashes.

It stated, “Strong winds are expected to accompany the moderate to heavy rains which can lead to falling of unsecured objects, weak buildings and exposed structures.

“Hence, the public is advised to be prepared for these events to avoid damages from rain-related hazard and watch out for updates. Elsewhere (See places in Green), no hydrometeorological hazards are anticipated.”

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Nigeria’s $500m Tucano jets, largest purchase in sub-Saharan Africa – US

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Nigeria’s purchase of 12 new A-29 Super Tucano jets at a sum of $500 million is the largest single arms procurement in sub-Saharan Africa, the United States Department of Defense has said.

Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, disclosed this on Tuesday at the A-29 Super Tucano induction ceremony, hosted by Nigerian Minister of Defense Bashir Salihi Magashi and the Nigerian Air Force in Abuja.

“The Nigerian Air Force is one of our key partners that play a critical role in furthering regional security and stability,” Harrigian was quoted as saying in a statement by the US Embassy in Abuja.

“This ceremony symbolizes the strength of our unique partnership and underscores the value of training and working together,” he said.

The Super Tucanos were the impetus for the significant deepening of training and professional relationships, he added.

The statement said, “Precision targeting, air-to-ground integration, and human rights training are all included in the partnership between the U.S. and Nigeria.

“The aircraft will assist the Nigerian Air Force in their fight against violent extremist organizations including the Islamic State West Africa Province.

“The joint structure of air-to-ground integration also supports Nigerian Army and Navy operations.

“Nigeria purchased the A-29s through the Foreign Military Sales programme, which follows the Department of Defense’s “Total Package Approach” model and includes spare parts for several years of operation, contract logistics support, munitions, and a multi-year construction project to improve Kainji Air Base infrastructure.

“The total sale is valued at almost $500 million, making it the largest FMS program in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Harrigian said the A-29 is a prime tool to help Nigeria combat violent extremism and is vital to sustained deterrence.

“The total package deal—aircrew and maintainer training, precision-guided weapon delivery, and more—highlights our enduring partnership with the Nigerian Air Force and our commitment to enabling their successes where we can.”

A total of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force were trained to U.S. standards with the U.S. Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Base in Georgia, USA.

 

The training also emphasized the Law of Armed Conflict and civilian casualty mitigation, which are fundamental principles of the Nigerian military’s professional education and training.

 

As part of the programme, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing $36.1M in infrastructure support to the A-29s’ home base, Kainji Air Base, including covered magazines and aircraft sunshades, a new airfield hot cargo pad, perimeter and security fencing, airfield lights, and various airfield apron, parking, hangar, and entry control point enhancements.

 

The infrastructure package also includes a flight annex wing building for simulator training as well as munitions assembly and storage and small arms storage.

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