Source: Ken Iwelumo

According to sources close to the Federal Government, the option or merging Arik Air and Aero Contractors is being considered in the build up to creating a national carrier.

The option, according to sources, is due to the alleged debt burden of the airlines. Besides, despite government’s recent intervention since their takeover by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, the airlines are not promising in terms of operations and debt payment.

The conversion plan, though already faulted by some stakeholders, will further reduce private domestic operations to six airlines, with the attendant debt burden and legal issues for the prospective national carrier.

The antagonists urged the government to start the airline from the scratch, ensuring it is publicly owned and free from political interference.The defunct Nigeria Airways was the country’s national and flag carrier between 1958 and 2003. The airline, fully owned by the Federal Government, was liquidated over mismanagement, corruption and over-staffing, with its indebtedness put in the region of $78 million (N23.8 billion).

While its asset was bought over by Arik Air in 2007, no fewer than 6000 workers were still being owed severance packages to the tune of N78 billion.Floating a new choice flag carrier has been on the front burner of discourses by the current administration since 2015.

The government, penultimate week, appointed advisers to help set it up and develop its aviation infrastructure.

Author: Yemi Olarinre