Monday, August 12, 2013

► NIGERIA: Jimoh Ibrahim says Air Nigeria will resume ops but only under new ownership.

Air NigeriaAir Nigeria (VK) could make a return to the skies, albeit under new ownership and management, the current CEO of the airline, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, has stated. Speaking on the tenth anniversary of the founding of his group of companies, Global Fleet, Mr Ibrahim said his board of directors would meet over the coming week to discuss the future of the airline, which ceased operations in September 2012.

Speaking to The Tribune, Mr Ibrahim refused to state categorically how and in which way the airline would return but said it was "certain that new owners may buy the airline from him."
Well, I cannot say categorically. The Group’s Council will meet next week to take a final decision on Air Nigeria. But I can tell you that our position has always been on divestment of our shares from it. I can tell you that the airline will fly again, but under a different ownership, not Jimoh Ibrahim. It was sold to me by Richard Branson. I will sell to another person,” he said.
Air Nigeria A330 (J Smitherman)
Air Nigeria collapsed in 2012 following weeks of speculation about mounting debts, tax raids and safety concerns. However, Mr Ibrahim claimed the demise of his airline had been as a result of staff disloyalty, a lack of "good human resources", safety oversights and the alleged lack of coherency in the application of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority's (NCAA) policies.

The news comes as the NCAA has now denied previous reports that the Nigerian Government, through the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), is seeking to take over and liquidate all airlines still indebted to AMCON. Ten Nigerian airlines, under the auspices of the Aviation Intervention Fund, had received a total of NGN86.7billion (USD540million) in loans, at interest rates of between 2 and 7 percent with between 10 to 15 years to repay the loan. Air Nigeria was the lead beneficiary with a total sum of NGN35.5 billion, followed by AeroContractors (AJ) with NGN20 billion, Kabo Air (N9) NGN6.66billion, Chanchangi Airlines (5B) NGN3.4 billion, Dana Air(9J) NGN618million, Caverton Helicopters NGN1.348billion, Overland Airways (OJ) NGN805million, and FirstNation Airways (FRN) N271.7 million.

It was alleged that the domestic airlines, when liquidated, would pave way for the new carrier, Nigeria One.

According to Mr Fola Akinkuotu, the director general of the NCAA, "it was not in the interest of his organization NCAA to liquidate any airline in the country."

Out of the 10 carriers that benefited from the bail-out loan, Air Nigeria has now closed shop, leaving a backlog of unpaid debts. However, fellow Nigerian carrier, FirstNation Airways, who suspended operations in October 2012, have now announced plans to resume domestic operations this month using two Airbus A319s on lease from the ILFC. The Lagos-based carrier claims the two aircraft are part of plans to operate nine in total.

Thanks to the NaijaAviators