The former managing director of Skyway Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL), Mr. Olu Owolabi has said that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) cannot be exonerated from the happenings in Arik Air which led to its takeover by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
Speaking in an interview in Lagos, Owolabi, who is the president of Association of Friends Club, said airline creditors update NCAA with their financial dealings with the airlines and wondered why the agency did not take action when it was evident that Arik had challenges including inability to pay its staff.
“Every month airlines’ service providers, for example, demand for their money. When they write to the airlines, they also copy NCAA. Every month, NCAA receives update on financial indebtedness of the airlines to the service providers.
“They do so to inform NCAA because any action they take to recover their money, will affect the operations of the airline(s). So, it is mandatory that when you demand for your money you copy NCAA. So they (NCAA) are well aware.
“NCAA is to blame for not acting promptly. NCAA knew that the airline was having problems, why did it not act? NCAA should be asked some questions. When Aero was having problems, NCAA was aware but what did they do?
“NCAA knows some of the airlines are having problems. NCAA’s duty is not only to regulate and ensure safety of aircraft; the welfare of workers and passengers is also paramount. NCAA should be asked questions about the fall of Arik Air,” he said.
Speaking further, Owolabi faulted the take-over of the airline by Asset Management Corporation saying its intervention was not only late but “its approach is wrong” since the airline is also indebted to banks and some other institutions.
Owolabi said the other creditors should be carried along adding that it would be impossible to salvage the airline without injecting new funds into it.
“You need a team to turn around an ailing airline like Arik Air. It is not only AMCON that own Arik; banks are there and they must be carried along.
“I am very sure that banks that the airline is indebted to were not carried along before AMCON took over Arik Air. Banks need to be involved,” he said.
Owolabi also said the airline’s owner, Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide should not be given observer status.
“For you to take over such an ailing airline you need the owner; he should not be shut out. You don’t tell the owner to stay away. You need him because he knows the pitfalls. There are some decisions he took which he has to explain at a critical time,” he added.