The Managing Director of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), George Uriesi on Friday said that Arik Air owes the authority over N7 billion.
Mr Uriesi, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, said Arik Air’s debt resulted from the company’s refusal to the mandatory parking and landing charges.
“I have come to the conclusion that the business module of Arik is to operate and get by without paying its bills,” the FAAN boss said.
The airline company, while announcing the suspension of flight operations in Lagos on Thursday had said that said operations would not resume until FAAN and the Ministry of Aviation resolve the issue and reconcile the accounts, to settle the crisis arising from the debt issue.
Chris Ndulue, Arik Air’s Vice President had said the allegation that the airline was indebted to FAAN was fictitious and malicious, adding that the airline only had about N1.6 billion debts outstanding before the authority introduced the pay- as –you- go system of payment.
According to him, the airline did not owe N7.2 billion as claimed by FAAN.
Mr Uriesi however debunked the claims by the company saying that Arik Air’s statement was meant to deceive Nigerians.
“To my shock yesterday, they actually deceived Nigerians by saying that for the past 18 months they’ve been ‘paying as you go’, which is not true
“What happened 18 months ago was another way of rescuing ourselves from not getting paid because the passengers, if you fly you pay us a thousand naira for passenger service charge. The law says that money is on the ticket.
“But the airlines, particularly Arik were never remitting this money to FAAN. So we decided about 18 months ago to going back to what airports use to do in the 60s, printing special tickets for the passenger service charge to force the airline to buy upfront. If we allow it to be on the tickets, they will never remit the money to us. It is our money,” he said.