The Federal Government may have concluded plans to rename Arik Air to Nigeria Eagle as it commences total rebranding of the airline, which is currently under the control of Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
The prototype, cited by New Telegraph, which shows the logo of eagles emblazoned on the aircraft’s engine and painted in green colour, highlights the seriousness to give the airline a new look and reposition it for efficient services.
An aircraft engineer, who works for Arik, but pleaded anonymity because of the sensitivity of the new order, said in a matter of weeks, the carrier would have a name change.
“Arik is undergoing rebranding. Very soon, a new name will be announced,” he stated, as he showed our correspondent the pictures of the new name and logo.
It is not clear whether the government has concluded plans to transmute Arik into its proposed national carrier or just simply as a change of identity following government’s takeover of the carrier three years ago.
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, is not favourably disposed to making Arik a national carrier.
The minister recently spoke against the idea while faulting comments by AMCON Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ahmed Kuru, calling on the Nigerian government to convert Arik Air into a national carrier.
Kuru had, in December 2019, said his agency had retrieved Arik from the brink of collapse and restructured and positioned it on the path of growth and profitability.
He said the National Assembly should, therefore, ensure that government leverages on the potential of the airline as a stepping stone towards setting up a national carrier rather than trying to set up a new airline brand from the scratch.
The AMCON boss noted that a new airline would cost the Federal Government a fortune, especially in the face of the nation’s tight budget.
According to Kuru, Arik has enough aircraft and facilities that can be used to set up a new airline and if the government wants to set up a national carrier to service just the domestic market, which currently has a lot of gap, it is possible with what Arik currently has.
“Today, if you want to travel to Lagos from Abuja and you did not book your ticket two or three days earlier, the chances are that you may not get a seat, which tells us that there is a serious gap,” he added.
Sirika immediately fired back and stated that the airline did not meet the requirements of a national carrier.
The minister explained that any airline that will operate at that level must be such that would support the national economy, with $450 million GDP for 200 million people, and must be very equipped to compete favourably.
“The international airlines that have dominated Africa, 80 per cent of those airlines are non-African. In view of the AU Agenda 2063, the Single African Aviation Market, we thought that there will be an airline that will take up that challenge; that will take advantage of it and be able to provide services to our people.
“Nigeria, being the first country to kick-start the declaration in 1999, to establish a one common market in Africa at the time, we wanted to take advantage of the Nigeria Airways, which was the strongest airline on the continent, and we thought that we could take advantage of that and it would pay Nigeria very well. Tables turned, decisions were reversed and now, Nigeria was unlucky not to have an airline that can participate in that manner.”
New Telegraph could not reach spokesman for AMCON, Mr. Jude Nwuzor, for comment as he did not pick several calls to his phone.a