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FG, AMCON undecided over Arik, Aero Contractors airlines

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The Federal Government is at the crossroads in deciding what to do with the duo of Arik Air, and Aero Contractors that are currently being managed by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Recall that AMCON took over Aero Contractors in February 2016, and a year later, also acquired the management and control of Arik Air over alleged gross mismanagement and huge debt burden in excess of N387billion.

The Guardian yesterday learnt that even AMCON, the government’s special debt recovery vehicle, had no inkling of the kind of fate that awaits the airlines after keeping their operations stable.

The situation leaves the government on the verge of having stakes in three airlines once the new national carrier, Nigeria Air, comes on board – a development experts have described as odd and untidy.

Meanwhile, the plan to float the Nigeria Air, may have suffered a setback, with delays in the release of initial funding for takeoff.

Sources revealed that the delay is not unconnected with President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent vacation, and alleged refusal of the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, to approve some requests made by the Minister of States for Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The information directorate of the Ministry yesterday refused to speak on the funding issues. It also refused to remark on the situation where the airline scheduled for launch in December, has still not applied for an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

Meanwhile, AMCON, as the major creditor for Arik and Aero Contractors airlines, had said the takeover was to save the airlines from imminent collapse, and return them to profitability.

A top official at one of the airlines told The Guardian that AMCON had indeed delivered on its mandate of keeping the airlines running.

For instance, Aero Contractors re-strategised to divest into the resuscitation of its Approved Maintenance Organisations (AMO) facility, which has since commenced Maintenance Repair and Overhaul services for Boeing 737 classics aircraft. Similarly, Arik Air has sustained its local and regional operations since the takeover.

“If AMCON had not intervened, the two airlines would have collapsed and their assets sold. So, the takeover was aimed at protecting the employees, sustain the transport network and the economy too. That is exactly what AMCON had done.

“Yes, we have not been able to take it to the next level, but that is not part of AMCON’s assignment. If it were to do that, then it would have to start investing huge capital in the airlines, paying creditors and buying aircraft, among others. What to do with the outstanding and the airlines, nobody really knows for now,” the source said.

However, there are still the pending issues of workers’ benefits, indebtedness to various parties, and what to do with government’s stake in the airlines.

Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), at the their recent National Executive Council (NEC) frowned at the failure of AMCON to, in almost two years, honour the redundancy agreement , which ATSSSAN and other unions signed with the management of Aero Contractors in 2016.

Deputy General Secretary, ATSSSAN, Comrade Frances Akinjole, said while empathising with Aero management, criticised the refusal of AMCON to approve the settlement of arrears of salaries and terminal benefits of staff members declared redundant, saying: “the directive of is not only inhuman, but a breach of the terms of the redundancy agreement.”

In respect of the debt owed by the airlines, the Secretary General, Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said taking over the aircraft of Arik and Aero would have been a good option for government to use as its five per cent contribution to start the new airline. “But the debts of these airlines are not owed to government alone.”

“There are debts owed to banks, foreign technical service providers, etc. These could be sources of litigations on the new airline,” he added.

He observed that the national carrier was still within the 90-day window for AOC application and approval, adding that initial funding should not be the problem to force a setback on the whole agenda.

“I don’t think the bulk of the start-up money must come from the government, whose share is only five per cent. There are expected share funds from strategic investors, which I advise must be foreign technical investors with 40 per cent share, but which I am told has been increased to 50 per cent.

“I also expect 20 per cent share funds from Nigeria’s credible investors and the Nigerian public like you and I – 30 per cent. I expect the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to take the remaining five per cent.

“Let me make myself clear again, the new national carrier is a public airline, and not a government or private airline. Therefore, the involvement of government now with the carrier is that of facilitator and not that of ownership. That position makes it different with that of the defunct Nigeria Airways, which was more or less a government airline or the Virgin Nigeria, which was owned by some political officeholders in and out of government,” Ojikutu said.

 -GuradianNG
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Qatar Airways to Resume Services to Khartoum in Sudan with Four Weekly Flights

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Qatar Airways Aircraft (Source: YouTube)

Qatar Airways is pleased to announce that it will resume services to Khartoum, Sudan, with four weekly flights starting 11 May 2021, increasing to daily service from 1 June 2021. The resumption of services will enable passengers flying from and to Sudan to benefit from the airline’s extensive international network in Asia, Australia, Europe and the US. The Khartoum services will be operated by the airline’s state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner featuring 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Sudan is a strategically important market for Qatar Airways. We are pleased to announce the resumption of services to Khartoum, allowing Sudanese to enjoy our extensive international network in Asia, Australia, Europe and the US via our home and hub, Hamad International Airport. We will continue leading the way in keeping our 24 African destinations connected to the world.”

Qatar Airways has become the first global airline in the world to achieve the prestigious 5-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by international air transport rating organisation, Skytrax. This follows HIA’s recent success as the first and only airport in the Middle East and Asia to be awarded a Skytrax 5-Star COVID-19 Airport Safety Rating. These recognitions provide assurance to passengers across the world that airline health and safety standards are subject to the highest possible standards of professional, independent scrutiny and assessment. For full details of all the measures that have been implemented onboard and in HIA, please visit qatarairways.com/safety.

Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, is located where the White Nile meets the Blue Nile. Khartoum has more than 200 pyramids and the majority of them can be found in Meroë, the remains of an ancient trading hub. Up close, they are truly impressive to behold, with each pyramid bearing decorative elements from Pharaonic Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations.

The national carrier of the State of Qatar continues to rebuild its network, which currently stands at over 130 destinations. With more frequencies being added to key hubs, Qatar Airways offers unrivalled connectivity to passengers, making it easy for them to change their travel dates or destination if they need to.

A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Airline’ by the 2019 World Airline Awards, managed by the international air transport rating organisation Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, ‘World’s Best Business Class’, and ‘Best Business Class Seat’, in recognition of its ground-breaking Business Class experience, Qsuite. Qsuite is available on flights to more than 40 destinations including Johannesburg, Frankfurt, New York and Singapore.

Flight Schedules starting 11th May:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday

Doha (DOH) to Khartoum (KRT) QR1331 departs 19:40 arrives 22:25

Khartoum (KRT) to Doha (DOH) QR1332 departs 01:00 arrives 05:25

Daily Flights Schedules starting 1st June:

Doha (DOH) to Khartoum (KRT) QR1331 departs 19:40 arrives 22:25

Khartoum (KRT) to Doha (DOH) QR1332 departs 01:00 arrives 05:25

 

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Rolls-Royce Set To Power Vertical Aerospace’s All-Electric Aircraft

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Vertical Aerospace by Rolls-Royce (Flickr)

Rolls-Royce’s ground-breaking technology is set to power Vertical Aerospace’s flagship Urban Air Mobility (UAM) aircraft. A Rolls-Royce electrical power system will be integrated into the piloted all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle, which will carry up to four passengers for 120 miles at cruise speeds of over 200mph and is on course to certify in 2024.

Vertical Aerospace is a key collaboration for Rolls-Royce Electrical as it marks our first commercial deal in the UAM market and builds on previous agreements to work with partners on demonstrator programmes. Rolls-Royce will design the system architecture of the whole electrical propulsion system, the electric power system that includes our latest 100kW-class lift and push electrical propulsion units, the power distribution and the monitoring system that will support operations.

Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Vertical Aerospace for the electrical technology that will power their pioneering eVTOL aircraft. This exciting opportunity demonstrates our ambitions to be a leading supplier of sustainable complete power systems for the new Urban Air Mobility market which has the potential to transform the way that people and freight move from city to city.”

Michael Cervenka, CEO – Vertical Aerospace said: “We are excited to collaborate with Rolls-Royce, bringing onboard a hugely experienced team with deep expertise and cutting-edge electrical technologies to power our pioneering eVTOL aircraft. This collaboration builds on our existing partnerships and Vertical is well-positioned to develop the world’s leading eVTOL aircraft, certified to the highest CAA and EASA safety standards being set globally.”

Around 150 Rolls-Royce engineers based in countries including Hungary, Germany, US and the UK will work with the Vertical Aerospace team on developing the aircraft which is aiming to be one of the world’s first certified eVTOLs. Vertical Aerospace, based in Bristol, has already flown multiple full-scale eVTOL prototypes and the build of VA-X4 will begin shortly with assembly taking place in the UK and the first flight happening this year.

Vertical Aerospace by Rolls-Royce (Flickr)

Electrification of flight is an important part of Rolls-Royce’s sustainability strategy and supports our aim to contribute to a net zero carbon future by 2050.  Rolls-Royce Electrical is a specialist team whose focus is to develop sustainable, efficient and quieter technology for aviation, marine, land and industrial applications.

Rolls-Royce also recently announced a partnership with Tecnam and major worldwide aviation players for the development of the P-Volt: an all-electric, twin electric motor, short and medium range passenger aircraft, designed for maximum versatility and safety, powered by renewable energy. In our traditional aviation segments technology continues to be developed for more-electric aircraft solutions- with integrated electrical starter generators, auxiliary power units and more intelligent management of the electrical systems on board.

 

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Lufthansa and SWISS partner Airlink to offer convenient travel connections in Southern Africa

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Lufthansa and SWISS Aircraft (Source: Lufthansa Group website)

Lufthansa and SWISS are partnering with Airlink, to offer customers access to over 25 domestic destinations in South Africa, including Bloemfontein, George, Upington, Skukuza, Nelspruit, Hoedspruit and Port Elizabeth – as well as over 20 regional destinations in Southern Africa, such as Gaborone, Kasane, Vilanculos, Maun, Victoria Falls, Maputo, Windhoek, Harare, Lusaka, Ndola, Bulawayo and many more.

The interline agreement which came into effect in January 2021, allows customers the convenience of purchasing a single ticket to or from a multitude of destinations in Southern Africa, via Airlink’s gateways in Johannesburg and Cape Town, therefore offering a truly seamless travel experience across both airlines.

“The Lufthansa Group is pleased to offer our customers even more travel options and convenience through our partnership with Airlink. We value Airlink as an important and reliable partner in the restart of our South African operations, and look forward to exploring further opportunities to widen the scope of our joint collaboration. This
partnership represents another milestone in further enhancing our network, and expressing the Lufthansa Group’s commitment to South Africa,” says Dr. André Schulz, General Manager Sales Southern and East Africa, Lufthansa Group.

Airlink CEO, Mr. Rodger Foster added: “We are proud and excited about our commercial interline agreement with Lufthansa and SWISS. We have a deep respect for these airlines, their values and global reach. We are confident that the partnership will provide our respective customers with a wider choice of travel options through the convenient interconnectivity of our respective flights at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport.

The Lufthansa and SWISS agreement with Airlink applies to tickets sold through LH.com, swiss.com and flyairlink.com – as well as through local travel agencies.

Jointly issued by Airlink and Lufthansa Group

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