The CEO of Arik Air, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, has stated that, the airlines expected a bit more from government, just as he stated that they were aware that the country itself faced significant challenges from all other sectors of the economy.
According to Ilegnodu, “We do not think of ourselves as unique. So we appreciate the little we got something little is better than nothing, so I think that helped in its own little way aiding us to surmount some of the challenges we face”.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to his office by the Leaque of Airport and Aviation Correspondents (LAAC ) on Wednesday, Ilegbolu noted that airlines were still facing significant challenges, including that of foreign exchange, which he said had virtually gone up significantly by approximately 40% since COVID struck last year.
“You realise that our industry itself is quite tied to the supply from outside Nigeria. To support an aircraft with spare parts you need all sorts coming in. So significant sums of monies are spent on maintenance, the airplane on a daily basis must be maintained; you can’t compromise maintenance of aircraft .
For example, the tyres s on an airplane, some people don’t t realise how much we change those tires. Its quite significant for us to face all this and now coupled with the exchange rate, so we do need more help from government.
As much as government cam give, we will appreciate, especially if that can be resolved (Foreign exchange ) that major aspect for us”, he said.
On the high cost of Aviation fuel for their operations, he said since Aviation fuel is tied to foreign currency, anything that is imported is affected by enumerations in dollar per naira exchange rate.
“If we say FX has gone up about 40% then it is safe to say prices of jet fuel have gone up too by about 40 per cent”, Ilegbodu said
On their connection with Nigeria’s NG Eagle Capt. Ilegbodu, stated that, there is no connection between Arik Air and the emerging Nigeria’s NG Eagle Airline.
Already, Nigeria’s NG Eagle has received its first two Boeing 737-700 aircraft. The aircraft, from the fleet of Arik Air, were delivered to Lagos airport from Addis Ababa recently.
NG Eagle was set up in July 2019 with Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON ) being the majority shareholder and the airline is currently at the verge of obtaining its Air Operator Certificate (AOC).
Explaining the link between Arik Air and the new airline, further, Capt Ilegbodu, maintained that there is no connection between the two, pointing out that Nigerian Eagle is solely owned by AMCON while Arik Air itself is in receivership and the receivership was instituted by the same AMCON.
Emphasising further, he said “In reality there is no connection between the two. That said, you are aware that Nigerian Eagle is solely owned y AMCON and of course you know that Arik Air itself is in receivership and the receivership was instituted by AMCON which is based on the fact that Arik owes significant sums if money to AMCON. So if you can infer from there that’s the relationship”.
On the two painted aircraft bearing Arik Air logo, the CEO said “I can boldly say that those airplanes in our industry, we call it recovery. So they have been recovered. If a company is owing and it cannot pay, those airplane were actually mortgaged to AMCON and it is very clear that at some point they took their assets and that is what was done, So the fact that they carried the name and logo of Arik doesn’t mean they belong to Arik.
The owners have taken their property. Of course the opportunity was given to Arik to pay, I don’t think that happened. So I think its pretty straight forward. By law, those are mortgaged assets and the owners of the assets have every right to take their assets”.
Commending federal government for their COVID-19 palliative fund of N5 billion to aviation sector, Ilegbodu said that what airlines got was definitely not enough, adding that they certainly could have done with a lot more.
Speaking further the Arik Air boss confirmed that the impact of the pandemic has been quite significant even though government has come massively in support of airlines