(Nigeria News) Thousands of Nigerians were left stranded after Arik Air unexpectedly suspended all domestic flights this week. BattaBox headed to Lagos airport as passengers sought refunds for their canceled flights
The reason for the sudden shut-down of operations remains unclear – the Arik Air website blamed the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria for disrupting its service. One journalist we interviewed explains one problem is the huge levels of debt incurred by Arik Air:
“Arik airline is owing the Unions, the workers and the aviation industry over 80 billion Naira,” explained a journalist from RayPower FM, who said both the Unions and Arik Air were in a meeting to negotiate a way to restart flights.
Associated Press reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria has barred both Arik Airlines and Aero from further loans after they owe $534 million and $203 million respectively.
However, BattaBox spoke to an anonymous source within Arik Air who claimed the government has disrupted the airline’s operations because Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, is demanding 5% of Arik Airline shares.
Minister Stella Odoah could not be reached for comment but has denied such allegations in other reports. Her website describes her as “an amazon of a woman… bringing her wealth of knowledge and real world experience to help manage Nigeria’s all-to-important Aviation Industry.”
Nigeria’s airline industry is in crisis after the Dana air crash killed 153 people in June and Air Nigeria closed all operations in early September.
Yet, so far, there has been no announcement from the government that these systemic problems are to be addressed.
Arik Air has announced on its website that flights will resume from Sunday, 23rd September. There has been no word of compensation for any expenses or interruptions to peoples businesses.