Federal Government has given a two-week ultimatum to Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and domestic airline, Arik Air to resolve all indebtedness issues of the airline as alleged by unions.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, gave the directive at a meeting with the management of Arik Air in Abuja yesterday.
However despite this directive, the last may not have been heard of the Arik, aviation unions’ rift over alleged unremitted or unreconciled funds if information reaching Nigerianflightdeck is anything to go by.
Late last night our team got a hold of the communique that ended the unions’ revenue drive on Arik and that little piece of information left more questions unanswered.
The communique our team obtained appended by six signatories showed that Arik Air and the unions agreed that revenues services rendered to the airline from September 2015 till date at the Murtala Muhammed Airport(MMA), Lagos shall be reconciled within two weeks by the airline, union with the presence of the Nigeria Police Force and State Security Services(SSS)
The communique also said that the union is to give Arik prior 14 days’ notice before they embark on disrupting their activities, throwing up the question: ‘Are we going to see this happen again.”
The communique was signed by Managing Director of Arik Air, Chris Ndulue, President of Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), and General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye, President National Union of Pensioners (NUP), Ope Rasaki, DTM, Convener, Tayo Oginni and Industrial Relations / HR, Adeyemi B.J
The communique read:
“That all revenue services rendered to Arik Airline from September 15, 2015 till date at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos shall be reconciled within two weeks from the day by a team of Arik Airline staff and FAAN staff with NPF, SSS and the unions representatives in attendance”
“Arik Airline shall go immediately to confirm from their accounts department, agreed bills by Arik for services rendered by FAAN to Arik Airline from September, 15, 2015 till date and pay same before the conclusion of the reconciliation of the disputed bill.”
“It was also agreed that 14 days’ notice should be served to Arik Airline in case of future aviation workers/union action.”
It was learnt that this communique signed was only for revenue in Lagos that include landing charges, electricity, service recovery charge and rent
During yesterday’s briefing, the Chairman of Arik Air, Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide had resolved that the airline would not be bullied into any form of arbitrary payment stating some cost which he termed as outrageous including the cost of electricity at the airport.
He had alleged that the airport authority had brought an electricity bill for over N400 million for a month and that since Arik started using the prepaid card, its monthly electricity bill has been less than N700,000 monthly wondering where all the bills generated was coming from.
He also said that the airline pays Passenger Service Charge to FAAN but still ferries its passengers to the aircraft from the terminal, according to him, those and so many other things have to be reconciled.
Arumemi-Ikhide also recalled the Calabar incident where a man broke in and rammed his car on their aircraft stating that he is aware that FAAN has paid damages to foreign airlines but has not talked about that stating that now is not the time to bring that up.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Sirika, who gave the directive to reconcile all issues in two weeks directed the parties to report back to him after the two-week ultimatum, with a resolution on the amounts owed, payment plans and the way forward.
The Minister noted that all airline operators must conform to industry rules and regulations, including payment of applicable fees and fines as at when due, stating that the well-being of an airline was measured by its ability to pay for services rendered it.