— As Lawyer Accuses Airline of Prioritizing Pecuniary Interest Over Safety of Passengers
— Airline Says The Incident on March 8 Has Been Duly Registered With NCAA
An Edo based legal Practitioner, Mr. R. O. lsenalumhe, has accused the new trustees/managers of Arik Air, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria [AMCON] of deliberately monetizing the life and safety of its passengers in a bid to ‘recouple the debt owed by Arik Air, which they purchased from the banks’.
In a statement obtained by ASKLEGALPALACE, and titled ‘ARIK AIR: A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN’, the Edo-based lawyer noted that on two occasions, he has had cause to be concerned about the airworthiness of the Airline, particularly on March 7 and 8, 2021.
According to Mr. Isenalumhe, his flight from Benin to Abuja on the 7th of March was quite worrisome, traumatic and very indicative that all was not well with the Air Craft. He also alleged that, his return flight back to Benin [on the 8th of March, 2021], also had a more serious challenge, noting that fifteen  minutes into the return flight, the pilot made a very disturbing announcement, on the inability of the Aircraft to continue its flight to Benin due to some hitches. Further noting that despite these challenges, the Aircraft is still operational.
“On the 7th of March 2021, I boarded an Arik fight ‘from Abuja to Benin’ [sic]. The flight was 5.50 pm from Benin. The take-off from Benin Airport was traumatic and clearly indicative that the plane was not in order. We however managed to land at Abuja Airport after 1 hour 15 mins.”
“I was to return back to Benin on the 8th March 2021 at 4.15 pm with the same aircraft. After an hour delay, we managed to take off. 15 minutes into the flight, there was an announcement from the pilot that the flight cannot continue. The reason given was that there is an opening somewhere maybe a door. The plane is to return back to Abuja before any disaster.”
“One hour after the announcement, the plane was still hovering around and could not land. The pilot explained that he had to burn out fuel before landing.. suddenly the pilot announced that he was about to land. He assured us that fire brigade was fully mobilised on ground as well as NEMA… However, we managed to land at the Abuja Airport.”
However, in a swift reaction, the CEO of Arik Air, Captain Roy Ilegbodu, reassured its passengers, as well as Airline users of their safety and the professionalism of the Airline, that as a responsible corporation with over 16 years of experience, the Airline will not prioritize any pecuniary gain over the safety and welfare of its passengers.
The position of the Airline was made known via a press release in response to Mr. Isenalumhe allegations. In the said press release obtained by ASKLEGALPALACE and titled, ‘Arik Air operations safe’, the Airline noted that the supposed incidence of March 8, 2021, has been duly registered with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority [NCAA] in line with standard best practices, and the airline has been cleared by the regulatory authority to continue its operations.
The press release also noted that with regards to the referred incident, the actions of the flight crew were strictly precautionary and in line with standard practice, in other to ensure the safety of its passengers.
“The incident referred to by the author of the article occurred in Abuja on the 8th of March 2021. For the records, the actions taken by the crew of the flight were strictly precautionary as the Pilot-in-Command of the aircraft took the necessary safety measures by returning the aircraft to land as they have been well trained to do in line with standard practice, after observing a cautionary indication light in the cockpit. Our aircraft are modern, next-generation aircraft equipped with redundancies and annunciators that enhance safe operations in all stages of flight.” the statement reads in part.
Whilst noting its possible option of litigation in addressing what it referred to as the ‘libelous and unprofessional conduct’ of Mr. Isenalumhe, the Airline was of the opinion that Mr. Isenalumhe, not being an expert in matters of aviation, cannot declare an aircraft unsafe, especially having failed to carry out necessary Investigations with professionals in the industry.
Similarly, the Airline refuted the claim of Mr. Isenalumhe that the Airline was ‘in a race against time’ with regards to the payment owed by its new Managers— AMCON. It noted that “Arik has not made any repayments to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on its pre-receivership debt as claimed by Mr. Isenalumhe. Neither has AMCON put any undue pressure on Arik for repayments at the detriment of operation. Instead, AMCON had provided funds and all forms of support to assist the airline in its operations.”
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