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House of Reps panel okays recovery efforts at Aero, Arik


House of Representatives Committee on Banking and Currency has described as satisfactory the recovery efforts at both Aero Contractors and Arik Air since they were taken over by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Members of the committee, during an on the spot assessment of both airlines in Lagos at the weekend, commended AMCON for turning around the fortunes of both erstwhile distressed airlines.

The Federal Government’s special asset recovery vehicle, AMCON, took over Aero Contractors in February 2016 and Arik a year later, to save them from alleged imminent collapse. Both have, however, shown steady recovery with Aero now conducting maintenance on Boeing 737 aircraft series and Arik showing stability in local commercial operations. As at last year, AMCON had injected over a billion into Arik.

Chairman of the committee, Sir Jones Chukwudi Onyereri, said from what his team saw on ground, Nigerians stand reassured of the safety of Arik and Aero and their survival.

Onyereri said he was satisfied with Arik having enough spare parts to carry on with seamless operations, which is reassuring to the flying public.

“To the extent of safety, the amount of spare parts in their (Arik) store is huge, we are completely impressed. They have brand new tyres, spare engines and that is comforting enough.

“The point is, these two airlines are too big to fail and any wise government will not allow them to fail. The primary thing about airline business is safety. So, to that extent, we are comfortable with them,” he said.

Reacting to the rumour that there are chances of Arik Air and Aero being merged into the forthcoming new national carrier, the chairman said it was beyond the committee for now there are so many things to be considered before such a development could happen.

He lauded Aero for the expansion of its existing hangar to carry out aircraft C-checks as engineers of the nation’s oldest airline were seen stripping a B737-500 bare for the commencement of comprehensive maintenance on another Boeing airplane.

According to Onyereri, “For one C-check, I understand goes for about $1.8 million. That is huge. That is a lot of savings for the country and we believe that we must do everything to ensure they don’t close shop.

“That is the essence of oversight visit because when we look at the books, you will say why do you spend so much money and advise that they should close shop. But now that we have seen it and seen that there is room for expansion and indeed that things are actually happening, we have no reason than to go back and tell our members to take a second look at it,” he said.

Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Captain Ado Sanusi, said they had to look inwards to stand a chance of survival.

“And today, our engineers are capable of conducting a C-check. The limiting factors were faced squarely and we conducted the first C-check. Now, we are doing the second and this like I have always said is the game-changer in the industry because other operators can utilise this facility and save the country foreign exchange and also give Nigerians opportunity to allow young engineers to come in and work.

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