Arik Air, Nigeria’s largest airline, has shut down its operations. It means hundreds of passengers across the country have been left stranded after their flights were cancelled.
An official at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport confirmed this development to the press saying that none of the airline’s flights took off on Tuesday.
“Passengers are stranded at the airport now. The situation is even better because today is a public holiday,” the official, who didn’t wish to be named because he wasn’t authorised to speak to the press on the matter, said.
“We don’t know what will happen by tomorrow.”
Arik described the shutdown as a “temporary disruption pending approval of aircraft documentation related to insurance renewal.” It said all flights on Tuesday (Sept. 13) had been canceled. News of the Arik shutdown and an insurance debt problem was first reported by Sahara Reporters before the airline confirmed.
Last week, Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, chairman of Arik Airlines, said that airlines that are still in operation in the country were only doing national service.
One travel industry source said Arik suspension of flights was also impacted by its main aviation fuel supplier cutting it off for non-payment.
The airline said it is “working round the clock” to resume normal services.
News of Arik’s operational shutdown comes two weeks after Aero Contractors, Nigeria’s oldest working airline, indefinitely suspended its operations citing tough economic conditions.
Fola Akinkuotu, Aero Contractors’ CEO, said the airline had faced “grave challenges” for months.
On Sept. 1, First Nation, a smaller local airline, also suspended flights for maintenance of its aircraft.
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