Air travellers avoided the ticketing and reservation counters of Arik Air on Wednesday despite the fact that the airline commenced skeletal operations in the afternoon at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
Arik, Nigeria’s largest commercial airline, had announced a temporary suspension of its flight services on Tuesday due to issues of insurance documentation.
Late on Tuesday, the airline announced that it would resume normal operations on Wednesday from 11am.
“Arik Air is pleased to announce that after a temporary disruption of flights on Tuesday, September 13, pending approval of aircraft documentation related to insurance renewal, its scheduled flights will resume as normal operations from 11am tomorrow, Wednesday, September 14, 2016,” the carrier had said.
But it appeared as if passengers were not aware of the resumption of operations by the airline at the Abuja airport, as only few travellers were sighted at its ticketing and reservation counters on Wednesday.
It was learnt that the airline had skeletal operations from the Abuja airport in a bid to meet the needs of some customers.
When contacted, an official at the NAIA, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said, “They (Arik) have resumed operations, but basically on a skeletal basis. Passengers are not visiting their counters because many people read about the suspension of their operations and most of the travellers are not aware that the airline has recommenced services.
“But the good thing is that none of their passengers or the passengers of other airlines are stranded here at the Abuja airport. Everything is going on smoothly and we hope that as we progress, they will come back in full swing as it was before.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has yet to take a concrete decision on the intervention measures to be adopted in resolving the crisis in the aviation sector.
An official of the Aviation ministry had on Tuesday said the Federal Government would intervene in the crisis that has almost crippled the sector.
But a top government official confided in our correspondent on Wednesday that while the sector was facing a difficult time as a result of the harsh economic conditions in the country, which had forced three indigenous airlines to suspend operations, the situation was not peculiar to the aviation sector alone.
The official said while a lot of options were being considered to address the economic challenges confronting the country, it would be safer for the government to come up with a comprehensive package that would assist in stimulating the economy.
According to the official, announcing an intervention measure to solve the problems of a sector will be counter-productive as it will serve as a basis for other sectors to plead for government’s intervention.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “We all know that the country is facing economic challenges. What is happening in the aviation sector is also affecting other sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, banking and others.
“But as we speak, the government has yet to take any decision on possible intervention measures for the aviation sector.”
When contacted on what the government would do to address the challenges in the aviation sector, a Deputy Director at the Ministry of Aviation, James Daudu, said Jet-A1 prices were deregulated and outside the control of the ministry.
He said, “The petroleum sector is a deregulated sector and I don’t see how the Ministry of Aviation can come into it directly.
“The ministry cannot ask the government to reverse its deregulation policy, except there is a way to make it easy for the airlines to import Jet-A1.”