By Louis Ibah
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) yesterday said it has discovered a $78 million debt owed to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) by Arik Air shortly before it took over from the sacked management. IATA is a clearing house for over 268 global airlines meaning it offers a platform that grants credits to those airlines to do businesses at international airports they fly into, and to pay back later.
Media Consultant to Arik Air, Mr. Simon Tumba, who spoke to journalists in Lagos yesterday said it was important to clarify the airline’s debt profile to the public as the N300 billion frequently quoted was the figure owed just AMCON.
“Arik Air, under the former management, was owing everywhere they operated,” said Tumba. “And apart from the over N300 billion owed to AMCON, the airline also owes about N50 billion to Nigerian banks and another $78 million to IATA. The airline was also in indebted to its fuel suppliers and was not able to pay staff salaries for months,” Tumba added. He said the $78 million debt to IATA had led to the agency suspending Arik Air from its Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) and Cargo Account Settlement System (CASS) and that this had dire consequences on the airline’s international businesses.
Recall that Arik Air was taken over on February 9, 2017 by AMCON owing to its huge indebtedness to several creditors. AMCON had since hired KPMG to carry out a forensic audit of the airline’s finances.
“AMCON is not interested in liquidating Arik Air. We believe that the airline, which has one of the youngest fleet in Africa, can be turned around through good corporate governance and financial discipline,” Tumba said.