Chairman of Arik Airlines, Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, has called on the Federal Government to overhaul the nation’s aviation sector.
Arumemi-Ikhide who made the call at the 7th anniversary and unveiling of the firm’s new aircraft, an A330-200 Airbus, at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, commended the remodelling of some airports in the country, but urged the government to expand more of the terminals.
“Talking about infrastructure in the industry, some airports have changed. We have seen improvement in some areas. We expect the airports will be fenced to stem cases of stowaways. We hope more infrastructure will be put into the terminals, particularly the conveyor belt at the international wing,” he said.
He said that the Federal Government had not approached the airline for the purpose of setting up a national carrier. “I do not think that any government runs an airline in this 21st century. We have not been told that government wants to take over Arik.
“If government wants to take over our airline, they (government) should talk to our shareholders and it is left to the government whether they want a national carrier or not.
“We expect competition will better the business. We expect some stronger airlines to come up and strengthen the sector,” he said.
Arumemi-Ikhide urged Nigerians to invest in the aviation business, adding that Arik should be seen as a role model in the industry.
He denied the allegation that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had carried out an audit exercise of the airline.
According to him, Arik has trained 16 cadet pilots at the cost of $2 million (more than N310 million) within its seven years of existence.
“We have also trained over 18 female pilots and 60 ab-initio pilots at a cost of 1.5 million pounds (about N330 million).
“We have created over 2,500 direct jobs for Nigerians and carried 13 million passengers in seven years,” he added.