Thursday, September 20, 2012

► NIGERIA: Arik Air suspends local ops indefinitely citing FAAN harassment.

Arik AirJust when things couldn't seem to get any worse following the demise of Air Nigeria (VK) in early September, Nigeria's largest private carrier Arik Air (W3) today suspended domestic operations indefinitely citing what it called "the persistent hostility of the Ministry of Aviation and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) management" who "were trying to destroy the airline for their own financial benefit."

Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, Nigeria
A crowded Lagos Airport (JujuFilms)
The announcement comes after hundreds of  passengers were stranded at Lagos Murtala Mohammed International Airport today,  as well as other airports in Nigeria where the airline operates out of, when what Arik Air alleges "employees of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria raided its operations at Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport and gave those waiting on its flights nearby conflicting and disparaging information about the airline."

In a statement on its website, the carrier claims:
"Due to an action by the FAAN Union at the General Aviation Terminal in Lagos, we are sorry to advise our passengers that all domestic flights by Arik Air are cancelled for today Thursday 20 September. This information will be updated once we hear of any change. Passengers who have tickets to travel today will be re-booked on available flights once operations resume."

The FAAN management however, disputed Arik's assessment on the situation, instead blaming the raids on Arik Air's terminal counters and facilities on "unions upset over unpaid salaries."
"Earlier today, Thursday September 20, 2012, it was brought to the attention of the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria that members of the industrial unions in the aviation industry carried out an industrial action, which entailed the disruption of Arik Airlines’ flights, allegedly to recover debts owed by the airline to various agencies in the industry. The management wishes to inform the public that it was not aware of any plan by the unions to embark on the said industrial action as the management considers it to be counter-productive to the current efforts being made by management to recover debts owed FAAN by Arik Airlines and other customers.

The management wishes to assure the public, particularly air passengers and all other airport users, that we are doing everything possible to address the issue that informed the industrial action by the unions without recourse to violence."

During the strike action this morning, it was alleged by some of the Union workers that Arik supposedly owes USD110million to FAAN, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for unpaid passenger service charges(PSC), landing and parking charges and over flight charges.

As more developments arise, so we'll keep you informed.