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House of Reps to probe Aero Contractors’ operations

By on November 8, 2012

The House of Representatives has mandated its committee on aviation to investigate Aero Contractors over the frequent engine problems associated with their air crafts.

Rep. Robinson Uwak, moving a motion of urgent national importance, said it has been observed that some of the flights of the airline have been cancelled due to engine problems.

The lawmaker said it is necessary to investigate the matter so as to prevent another air disaster.

A plane belonging to Dana Air crashed in June due to alleged engine failure in the Iju Ishaga area of lagos State.

The depth of the company’s problems came to the fore when it was announced by news media that  the Central Bank of Nigeria promoted the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) had taken over the airline over debts.

The CBN had announced earlier in September that all credits to Aero should be halted because of its $200 million loan.

“We can confirm that Aero’s debt has been taken over by AMCON. Currently Aero is going through a restructuring exercise under AMCON, pending final approval by AMCON board which is expected very soon,” Mr. Omoke Enyi, Aero Contractors Chief Financial Officer, was quoted to have said in a report.

He said the airline is allowed limited access to funds by the banks through AMCON for its working capital.

The 51 year old Aero Contractors airline is one of the four major commercial airlines in Nigeria and the oldest among them. The three others; Dana Air, Air Nigeria and Arik Air are not in the skies. While Air Nigeria has suspended operations for a year on account of bankruptcy, Dana Air has not resumed operation since the 3 June plane crash. Arik Air, which operates the biggest fleet for now, has been grounded by protests. Arik is also heavily indebted to the banks.

Aero, the preferred airline by multinational oil companies, is Nigeria’s oldest private airline. With the technical support the technical support offered by the Canadian Helicopters Corporation (CHC), the world’s largest commercial helicopter operator, Aero has played a key role in the oil and gas operation in Nigeria.

On its website, Aero, which is based in Lagos, says it operates a “combined fleet of around 20 helicopters and 15 fixed wing aircraft ranging from 50 seat Dash 8 to 144 seat Boeing 737-400/500, employing about 1,300 personnel”.

Aero Contractors of Nigeria was formed in 1959 as a wholly owned by Schreiner Airways B.V of the Netherlands. It became a company with initially 40% Nigerian holding in 1973 and subsequently 60% in 1976.

In January 2004 Schreiner Airways was bought by Canadian Helicopter Corporation(CHC) which acquired 40 per cent holding of Aero contractors while 60 per cent majority share remained within the Ibru family group.

Currently, Aero is said to be wholly owned by the Ibru family and is said to be managed by Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, former managing director of defunct Oceanic Bank, who was convicted on charges of fraud and reckless spending.





Source: The Citizens