The aviation workers unions, whose members disrupted the operations of Arik Air in Lagos, on Thursday morning, have called off their actions against the airline
Addressing a joint news conference held by the aviation agencies on Friday in Ikeja, the Managing Director, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, George Uriesi, said Arik is free to resume its flight operations.
The aviation unions, said they disrupted Arik’s operations because of the airline’s alleged indebtedness of more than N17 billion to the various aviation agencies. The agencies include FAAN, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA.
Mr. Uriesi said that the management of the three agencies had no prior knowledge of the industrial action by the unions.
“However, upon hearing of it, all three chief executives had to return from Abuja to intervene in the situation on ground. The issue leading to the action by the unions relates to the huge debts owed the agencies by Arik Air.
“In the months and years past, all three agencies have made continuous efforts to recover these debts owed by the airline to varying degrees of success, even as the debt continued to accumulate on a daily basis,” he said.
He noted that the management of FAAN has continuously engaged the management of Arik about the debt owed, saying that the airline had continued to make cases why it would not honour its obligations.
“It was such a surprise to hear the airline proclaim that it does not owe FAAN and that the issue of recovery of Arik’s debts to FAAN was more about personal vendetta than about FAAN’s well being.
“The management of FAAN, NCAA and NAMA are committed to the orderly growth and development of a reliable and efficient air transport industry in Nigeria, with financial healthy airlines,” he said.
Mr. Uriesi expressed regret at the inconveniences the travelling public experienced as a result of the action.
Arik is yet to comment on whether this latest action by the workers unions would make it resume its operations. The airline suspended all its domestic flights after it alleged that FAAN and the MInister of Aviation were treating it unfairly.