A one time Nigerian major carrier, Arik Air, is at the tail end of its re-branding process but has a huge uncertainty over the future of Arik Air as Asset Management Corporation (AMCON) is set to change the name of the airline, which has been under its receivership in the past four years.
From gathered information via a close source, it was revealed that plans have reached an advanced stage by AMCON to change the name of the airline from Arik Air to Nigeria Eagle, a decision that did not put into consideration the former owner, Sir Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide.
Recalled that the plan to change the name of the airline started in January 2020 when the management of the airline took one of its aircraft to Ethiopian Airlines hangar in Addis-Ababa and would have completed the process if not for the covid-19 outbreak.
It was gathered that the liveries of the aircraft are being changed in Ethiopian Airline hangar.
Mr. Adebanji Ola, the image maker of Arik Air,was contacted for verification and he said, he was not aware of the development. “I am not aware of any re-branding. I am not aware.”
Mr. Ahmed Kuru, the Managing Director, AMCON, had late last year canvassed for the taking over of the airline by Federal Government and convert it to the national carrier, rather than floating an entirely new national airline.
He had said the National Assembly should, therefore, ensure that government leverages on the potential of the airline as a stepping stone towards setting up a national carrier rather than trying to set up a new airline brand from the scratch.
The AMCON boss noted that a new airline would cost the Federal Government a fortune, especially in the face of the nation’s tight budget.
According to Kuru, Arik had enough aircraft and facilities that can be used to set up a new airline and if the government wants to set up a national carrier to service just the domestic market, which currently has a lot of gap, it is possible with what Arik currently has.
“Today, if you want to travel to Lagos from Abuja and you did not book your ticket two or three days earlier, the chances are that you may not get a seat, which tells us that there is a serious gap,” he added.
But, this idea did not go down well with Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation who said that the airline did not meet the requirements of a national carrier.
The minister explained that any airline that would operate at that level must be such that would support the national economy, with $450 million Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 200 million people, and must be very equipped to compete favourably.
He said: “The international airlines that have dominated Africa, 80 per cent of those airlines are non-African. In view of the AU Agenda 2063, the Single African Aviation Market, we thought that there will be an airline that will take up that challenge; that will take advantage of it and be able to provide services to our people.”
Arik Air has less than seven airworthy aircraft at the moment, far from its initial 32 fleet at its peak some few years ago.