Arik Air Nigeria has finally waded into reports that it owes the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) N12.5 billion, explaining that it has paid N18.9 billion to date in excess of the said amount of debt.
The said debt brouhaha resulted in a delay of flights on Wednesday which left hundreds of passengers stranded following disruptions by aviation unions.
Hundreds of Arik Air passengers were left hanging at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) Murtala Mohammed Airport Lagos base of the carrier, as aviation unionists protest the airline’s alleged failure to pay debts reaching N12.5 billion owed FAAN.
The unionists who carried placards stormed the operational base of Arik, which is Nigeria’s largest carrier, as early as 6.30am on Wednesday and grounded the operations of the airline.
But at a press briefing yesterday at the company’s headquarters, Murtala Mohammed Airport Complex, Ikeja, Lagos, Arik’s managing director, Mr Chris Ndulue said the airline had paid N18.9 billion since its inception to date.
“At a time, FAAN said we owed N11.4 billion and at other times, it was N17 billion, now it is N12.5 billion. But with these different figures flying, we have paid N18.9 in excess since inception to date. As at June 30, 2015 FAAN acknowledged N11.4bn payment,” he said.
Ndulue however added that the minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had promised to look into the matter.
Also speaking in the same vein, the chairman of the airline, Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide alleged that FAAN had continued to boycott efforts to clarify the airline’s debt status in order to end the issue, which he described as unfortunate and unsuitable for the aviation sector.
“Since the issue of indebtedness started, several meetings have been held, including committees set up to reconcile figures relating to Arik’s remittances to FAAN, but these have not yielded results.