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  • Chidozie Uzoezie

COVID-19 Vaccination: Arik Air CEO Seeks Priority for Aviation Workers

As several countries begin to ramp up the COVID-19 vaccination programs, the CEO of Nigeria's Arik Air Capt. Roy Ilegbodu has advocated for the immediate vaccination of aviation staff as frontline workers.

“We think aviation workers should get priority for vaccination. In Arik we are trying to see if we can get all our staff vaccinated as soon as possible, this allows us to serve the public confidently, we are frontline staff as we deal with the public every day.” This he says will help keep the economy running and enable more people to travel knowing they are safe.

He said this when he hosted the Publisher of Atqnews and Travellers Magazine Ambassador Ikechi Uko at his Office. Ikechi Uko was at the Arik Air Head Office in Ikeja Lagos to personally deliver an Invitation for the Annual Abuja Jabamah Travel Event. The 2020 Travellers award will hold on the 27th of March in Abuja during Abuja Jabamah. Atqnews/Travellers have chosen Arikair as the Nigerian Airline of the Decade 2010 to 2020.

According to the citation read by Ikechi Uko to justify the choice of Arik as the Airline of Choice, “Arik Air started operations in 2006. Arik was once the Biggest Airline in West Africa with 30 aircraft in its fleet flying to London (UK), New York (USA), Johannesburg (South Africa), Dakar (Senegal), Banjul (Gambia) Accra (Ghana), and Dubai (UAE) along with numerous domestic operations. Today it flies mainly within Nigeria.

From the fleet it inherited, many aircraft are grounded but effectively using 6 aircraft. Since AMCON took over the airline in 2017 many of the leased aircraft have been returned to the owners or have been repossessed through Court orders. Four aircraft were returned to France. 2 Classic Airplanes abandoned in Europe were seized by a European Supplier.

Out of the two A340 planes, one is parked at the airport in Lagos while the other is in storage in France. Three Aircraft were recovered by the Canadian Export Development Bank. A Boeing 737-800 went for C-check in Lithuania and there is now an attempt by Lufthansa to seize it. Another Boeing 737-800 is abandoned in South Africa.

So many creditors are trying to seize as many of the assets as they could lay their hands on.

In spite of all these troubles, Arik is still the Biggest Airline Brand out of Nigeria. Even with the shrunk fleet, it is still one of the Biggest Airlines in West Africa.

Arik Air currently has 3 Q400 Aircraft, 2 CRJ-900, 1 Boeing 737-700, and another Boeing 737-700 is expected back from checks soon. Before AMCON took over Arik it was indebted to a lot of firms. They are all trying to seize one asset or another. So far the managers have managed the situation well.

Arik is in receivership and inherited 2500 staff but now has 1600 on the payroll. 900 of those are at home because of the Covid19 Lockdown fallout. Some are getting called back as soon as more activities are added. They are paid some allowances while at home. The Airline has so far proved resilient.

Arik Air has also demystified the myth that no Nigerian Airline with 10 Aircraft last beyond 10 Years.” Ambassador Ikechi Uko further said that it is hoped that Arik recovers and grows back to be the pride of Nigeria that it used to be.

Arik he says is still a global Brand from Nigeria. Kudos he said goes to the founders of the Airline and the workers who helped build the brand.

In his response Capt. Roy thanked the organizers for the honour and promised that Arik Air will attend the awards in Abuja. He commended the organizers for their consistency in promoting Travel and Tourism in Nigeria.

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