Chairman of Nigeria carrier, Arik Air Mr. Arumemi-Ikhide Johnson yesterday took civil servants in the ministry of aviation to the cleaners by accusing them of responsible for the myriad of woes the country’s aviation industry has suffered over the years. He specifically call on the President Muhammadu Buhari to carry out a forensic audit of the ministry to look into the dubious and corrupt practices they perpetuated by putting numerous hurdles before Nigerian carriers who indicated interest in flying into other countries.
Mr. Johnson spoke at a breakfast meeting of the Aviation Round Table (ART) in Lagos where he also debunk insinuations that Nigeria airline do not have the financial muscles to carry out transatlantic operations into Asia, Europe and America.
The Arik Air Chairman, who was making a rare appearance at an industry forum specifically, said officials of the ministry should be held liable for the rot that has characterized the Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) between Nigeria and other countries.
According to him, past Ministers in the ministry were illadvised by officials who rather prefer to gain from the lopsided arrangement they entered into rather than protect Nigeria carriers affirming that at various time the airlines has been denied entry into countries it applied to fly into while they grant entry permissions into Nigeria to airlines from countries that refuses same to Nigeria airlines.
He said the recent publication in national newspapers of the name of debtor airlines, by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is a disservice to local airlines and called for it reversal. He said the airline is no afraid of government setting up a national carrier and also denied allegations that Arik Air owes Nigerian banks any debt. He said the airline has secured $1 billion loan to upgrade its operation and said Arik Air has concluded arrangement to acquire 26 new aircraft between now and May 2016.
– Anthony Awunor