Ethiopian Airlines, owned 100 percent by the Ethiopian government, says it has made a bid to the Nigerian government to take over Arik Air, Nigeria’s biggest airline.
In February, Arik Air was taken over by the federal government via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) due to the company’s huge debt profile, which was over N300 billion.
The government immediately dissolved the airline’s management team, and appointed a receiver-manager.
“The airline will now be managed by Capt. Roy Ukpebo Ilegbodu, under the receivership of Mr. Oluseye Opasanya, SAN,” the government said in February.
Speaking at the World Bank/IMF meetings in April, Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, said the government was speaking with some investors on the sale of the flagship airline.
She did not disclose the name of the investors, but said “it was a preliminary discussion. They just expressed interest in buying the airlines and we told them that we would look into it”.
“Most of them are interested in investing in Nigeria and they just want to be sure that the timing is right. Some are looking at buying one of the airlines with AMCON and just waiting to be sure that our policies are right.”
Esayas WoldeMariam, Ethiopian’s managing director of international services, told CNN that the airline had made an offer, and was just waiting for the response of the government.
“We have outlined our terms and conditions to the Nigerian government and we are waiting to see if they agree. We are capable and desirous of handling the airline,” she said.
WoldeMariam did not specify details of the offer, but added that he expects to face competition for Arik from international airlines.
Calls placed through to the spokespersons of Arik and AMCON were not answered nor returned.
An insider however told TheCable that he was not aware of any of such deal.
Ilegbodu said two weeks ago that the airline was now gaining stability, and has retaken its place as the biggest in western Africa.
“We can now boast of approximately 4,000 passengers daily in our various flight operations,’’ he had said.