Officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Thursday morning disrupted Arik Air’s operations at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. They denied the airline’s staff access to their duty post making it impossible to process passengers for departures out of Abuja.
Statement from the cooperate affairs manager Arik Air Mr Ola Banji said the latest action may not be unconnected with allegation of debt FAAN claimed Arik Air owed. The airline has described the debt figure by the agency as fictitious and malicious.
He insisted that Arik Air does not owe FAAN any money since the agency’s charges are paid in advance (pay-as-you-go basis) adding that it has been the practice for over two years when all the aviation agencies introduced pay-as-you-go for their services.
He said the he bogus debt claim by FAAN was therefore unacceptable to Arik Air.
The Honourable Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka had earlier stepped into the lingering debt issue between FAAN and Arik Air and had directed that a firm of auditors be engaged to reconcile the books. This process has not been concluded before the latest action by FAAN this Thursday morning.
Banji said since about 10:50 am when the Honourable Minister of Aviation directed the FAAN Managing Director to allow Arik Air access into the terminal, the directive was yet to be complied with by FAAN
He apologised for the inconvenience the FAAN action may have caused its esteemed guests adding that safety and comfort of passengers remain the bedrock of the airline’s operations.
It was learnt that Arik airlines has never paid landing charges in Lagos since it started operations as the airline argued that it operates from Lagos.
But a source close to FAAN disputed Arik on its argument saying that Home Base parking was only free and not landing charges.
It was learnt that passengers service charges has not be paid by the airline until FAAN forced them to be paying as you go since July.
The sources said further that one third of the debt in FAAN was being owed by Arik airlines.
Investigations showed that the minister intervened and asked Arik to pay its debt or face workers’ wrath.