Major stakeholders of Arik Air have begun talks with foreign investors as part of plans to pay debts owed to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and other creditors.
The Guardian yesterday learnt that the move, towards a new partnership with investors, was to fast track payment of N160 billion to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), for the return of the airlines’ operations to its owners.
Arik Air was in February taken over by AMCON, the special debt recovery vehicle of the Federal Government over alleged mismanagement and failure of the erstwhile management to pay debts.
Whereas AMCON has estimated and submitted to court a debt burden in excess of N375 billion, Arik shareholders insist its total debt exposure, including that of international creditors and local debts amounted to N160 billion; representing a 16.4 per cent of its value put at $3.2 billion by Deloitte UK in 2013.
The airline shareholders, according to sources, have held series of meetings with investors and may have brokered commitment with a Dubai-based conglomerate.
It was gathered that the undisclosed company had voted funds to investment in airline business, power and agriculture and it was attracted to Arik Air, which would serve as platform to invest in air transport in the continent.
A member of the negotiating team hinted that Arik Air and the company started negotiation last week in London and have reached some commitments and a team has been selected from both sides to continue with the negotiations.
Chairman of Arik Air, Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, confirmed the development, saying, “thus far, the negotiation had been fruitful.”
Arumemi-Ikhide also said that the company was willing to build maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Nigeria, “if government gives it the needed support because it has voted funds to invest in Africa.”
Meanwhile, 20 Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI) of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have successfully completed the NCAA/International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)-endorsed Government Safety Inspectors (GSI) Airworthiness Course.
Spokesperson of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye said the GSI course was to ensure airworthiness, while inspectors develop additional proficiency in the processes and procedures of certificating an applicant for Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO) and Air Operators Certificate (AOC).
The course covers the five phases of the certification process and the airworthiness inspector’s role in each phase.
Adurogboye said NCAA would continuously embark on human capacity building through effective professional development and relevant training.