Amcon denies having concluded plans to sell troubled carrier Arik Air to Ethiopian Airlines

ASSET Management Corporation of Nigeria (Amcon) officials have denied that the sale of Arik Air to Ethiopian Airlines has been concluded pointing out that they are still in the trying to get the troubled carrier back on its feet.


Last month, Amcon revealed that talks have commenced with Ethiopian Airlines to purchase the troubled Nigerian carrier Arik. It was seen as part of an ambitious plan to build Africa's largest airline that would serve all parts of the continent and link it with the rest of the world.


Arik has been in serious financial difficulty over recent years and in February this year, it was taken over by the federal government via Amcon, having chalked up huge debts, which totalled over N300bn ($833m). In contrast, Ethiopian Airlines, 100% owned by its government, is a hugely successful operation, flying to 101 destinations.


Esayas Mariam, Ethiopian Airline’s managing director of international services, said that the airline had made an offer and was just waiting for the response of the Nigerian government. She did not specify details of the offer but added that he expects to face competition for Arik from international airlines.


However, Yesterday, Amcon's head of corporate communications Jude Nwauzor, said he was not aware of any current discussion or negotiation with the management of Ethiopian Airlines regarding Arik Air. He added that for now, Arik Air remains in receivership and no deal has been reached with any potential buyer.


Mr Nwauzor added: “It is on record that the receivership team has within the period stabilised the operations of the airline, marked by stability of schedules, improved on-time-performance and revamped customer service among others. Today, the airline has regained its dominance as the most reliable carrier in the country with growing passenger patronage and confidence.


“The general public and all stakeholders will be kept duly informed on issues relating to the airline’s divestment. For some time now, the airline, which carries about 55% of the load in the country, has been going through difficult times that are attributable to its bad corporate governance and erratic operational challenges."


According to Mr Nwauzor, the decision to take over Arik will afford the airline the opportunity to go back to regular and undisrupted operations. He added that it will also allow it to avoid job losses, protect investors and stakeholder funds as well as ensure the safety and stability in the already challenged aviation sector.