The Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) has dissolved the Board of Aero Contractors and appointed a Manager over the affairs of the airline.
The decision on Friday, according to AMCOM was in furtherance of the statutory responsibility of acquiring Eligible Bank Assets and putting them to economic use in a profitable manner.
AMCON is both the majority shareholder and creditor of Aero.
An Industry-based management team will be put in place to provide the highest level of professional competence which would ensure a quick repositioning of the company.
AMCON said its management decided to make changes in the Management of the airline to protect the brand heritage of the airline.
It also maintained that its intervention was in the public interest to sustain and improve the quality of service which Aero was delivering.
The company further assured regulatory authorities, the traveling public and key stakeholders that “the airline would continue to operate on the solid foundation of safety and security with excellent customer service”.
AMCON has also engaged a reputable accounting firm to undertake a forensic audit of the airline’s accounts over the last five years.
The Nigerian government has initiated fresh plans to establish a national carrier, which it believes would help to drop the unemployment statistics and make the aviation sector more competitive.
During a facility inspection in Lagos on Saturday, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, Mr Yemi Adelakun, said that the safety and comfort of passengers were paramount in the ministry’s plans.
He stressed that the ministry was working hard to ensure that the airspace is safe.
“We have to make our passengers very comfortable. They have to be happy and we are bringing it up to the world standard. That is what we are looking at.
“Using Nigeria as a West African hub, we cannot be as big as this and allow Togo to take over the hub from us. No, that is not acceptable.
“And all the foreign airlines are making a lot of money out of Nigeria. That must stop,” he said.
He further stressed that if Gabon or Gambia could had their airways, Nigeria should have a National carrier.
“There is no magic, we are not professing to be magicians, but we want to start. If we start it today and cannot complete it in the next six months somebody else will continue from where we stopped.
“This is an industry that can employ so many Nigerians. So, we want to bring it back,” he said.
Some months ago, when the issue of the establishment of a national carrier was raised at the National Conference, with a suggested revival of the moribund Nigeria Airways, a larger number of the delegates rejected.
Precisely, on June 17, the delegates also rejected a proposal for the establishment of a new national carrier by the government.
It is not clear how the planned national carrier, as hinted by the Ministry of Aviation would be received.
Route development is the life-blood of the aviation industry, a means of promoting growth, securing profits and satisfying various constituencies.
According to statistics, Nigeria loses over 200 billion Naira annually to international airlines that have been generously given more than enough flight rights into Nigeria at the detriment of Nigerian carriers which are left with just three per cent of the international market share.
The inability of Nigerian airlines to ply most of the routes has led to an imbalance in the over 80 Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigerian and most countries.
At the moment, Arik Air is the only flag carrier representing Nigeria in the foreign scene with quite a number of regional and international connections.
It recently announced its commencement of a Lagos-Abuja-Dubai route. Passengers traffic and market research are two factors that determine where an airline will be investing next.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of Arik Air, Michael Aruremi-Ikhide, stressed that the airliner had observed the haulage of passengers in the route, resulting in the plan for the commencement of the Lagos-Abuja-Dubai haulage.
“We have to first observe that the route is a key segment and a high demand route with enough market size to necessitate additional lift from Nigeria to Dubai,” he said, stressing that the passengers are most important in the airliner’s considerations.
British Airways operates 14 frequencies to Lagos and Abuja, Ethiopia Airways operates 37 frequencies to Enugu, Lagos, Abuja, and Kano with airlines like Virgin Atlantic Airways, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, Etihad, Qatar and other carriers.
In the past, the West African Airways Corporation Nigeria Limited (WAAC Nigeria), launched its first connection to London, the United Kingdom, on October 1 1958.
The first air link between Nigeria and the United States was launched in early October 1964, called ″operation fantastic”. It linked Lagos with New York and was operated by Panam using Boeing 707s and DC-8S, but an agreement between both countries allowed Nigeria Airways to sell a limited number of seats on these flights.
By 1970 a domestic network and regional routes that extended west, as far as Dakar, operated in pool agreement with Ghana Airways; the European list of destinations included Frankfurt, London, Madrid and Rome, all of them served with VC10S chartered from Boac. In its over 30 year history, the airline served about 34 regional and international destinations.
When Nigeria airways ceased operations in 2003,Virgin Nigeria became the national Flag Carrier of Nigeria in 2004 as a joint venture between Nigerian investors and the Virgin Group the airline’s inaugural flight was on 28 June, 2005 from Lagos to London Heathrow, using an airbus a340-300 aircraft.
Virgin Nigeria quickly became one of Nigeria’s largest airlines, carrying its 1,000,000th passenger and 4,000th ton of freight within two years of operation with a major stake on the Lagos Johannesburg route as well. It ventured into the Lagos- Dubai route but had to pull out later. Virgin withdrew from the business in 2008
In June 2010, following the acquisition of a majority share in the airline, Jimoh Ibrahim, the new chairman, announced that the airline had undergone a further name change to Air Nigeria Development Limited, Branded as Air Nigeria on 13 June 2012, the carrier was grounded by regulators for safety checks as the operations could hardly be sustained.
Bellview Airlines was established in 1992 and operated about 11 regional and international routes in London and Johannesburg. The airline was shut down late 2009 following its failure to meet its schedules, an after effect of a tragic crash in 2005.
Air Nigeria terminated its operations on Monday due to “staff disloyalty and environmental challenges”, the latest setback for the country’s aviation industry after a rival’s plane crash in June killed 163 people.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority suspended Air Nigeria in June due to financial concerns, although some flights were allowed to continue.
“Corporations are like individuals, who naturally will get sick, and the usual thing to do is to admit them to hospitals, either for corporate surgery or for treatment, as the case may be,” a statement from the company’s Chairman Jimoh Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim said Air Nigeria would close operations for at least a year but he hoped to resurrect the airline in the future
Privately-owned Air Nigeria was part of Richard Branson’s Virgin fleet until he pulled out in 2010, selling his minority stake.
It operated flights across West Africa and to London.
The demise of Air Nigeria leaves the country with just four domestic carriers operating scheduled flights.