NIGERIA’S oldest domestic airline Aero Contractors has suspended all its scheduled services indefinitely beginning from today as part of a strategic business realignment to reposition its operations and return it to profitability.
Once touted as the possible new national carrier, Aero Contractors, like many other Nigerian airlines is currently facing a cash crunch due to the downturn in the economy. It is struggling to attract passengers, is having to pay exorbitant prices for aviation fuel and is unable to attract the necessary capital for investment in new aircraft.
Fola Akinkuotu, Aero’s chief executive, said that the recent management decision was part of the strategic business realignment to reposition the airline. He added that all staff directly and indirectly involved in provision of services, would also proceed on indefinite leave of absence.
Mr Akinkuotu said: “This business decision is as a result of the current economic situation in the country, which has forced some other airlines to suspend operations or outrightly pull out of Nigeria. On the case of Aero, the airline has faced grave challenges in the past six months, which impacted its business and by extension the scheduled services operations.
“This suspension is pending when the external opportunities and a robust sustainable and viable plan is in place for Aero Contractors to recommence its scheduled services. The implication of the suspension of scheduled services operations extends to all staff directly and indirectly involved in providing services, as they are effectively to proceed on indefinite leave of absence during the period of non-services.”
He added that the airline is aware of the impact this will have on its staff and highly esteemed customers, hence it has initiated moves to ensure that Aero is able to return back to operations within the shortest possible time. According to Mr Akinkuotu, both internal and external environmental factors had made it difficult for the airline to continue its scheduled services, leading to the management’s decision.