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Aero Contractors Airlines,
Nigeria’s second largest commercial carrier, has confirmed an exclusive report
of The PUNCH by announcing the suspension of its scheduled services beginning from
Thursday September 1, 2016

The report also noted that the
carrier was in talks with aviation unions on how to cut down on the number of
workers in its employ, just as sources from the sector said the airline was
contemplating a suspension of its flight services.

Confirming this in a statement
signed by the carrier’s management on Wednesday, Aero stated that the
suspension was part of the strategic business realignment to reposition the
airline and return it to the part of profitability.

It stated that this business
decision, which was a result of the current economic situation in the country,
had forced some other airlines to suspend operations or outright pull out of
Nigeria.

The airline said, “The impact of
the external environment has been very harsh on our operational performance,
hence the management decision to suspend scheduled services operations
indefinitely effective September 1, 2016, 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 members directly and
indirectly involved in providing services as they are effectively to proceed on
indefinite leave of absence during the period of non-services.”

As passengers, who had earlier
booked travel tickets online stormed the ticketing counters of Aero in some
airports, the airline had to swiftly announce that it would refund the payments
made by the intending travellers.

Officials of the firm told our
correspondent that the carrier had also agreed to refund those who may have
made payments for tickets in cash for trips that were to happen on Thursday,
September 1, 2016.

They stated that the airline had to
suspend its operations due to issues of forex, inability to bring back some of
its aircraft that were flown out for maintenance, as well as the precarious
financial situation of the company, despite being taken over by the Asset
Management Corporation of Nigeria.

A senior official of the carrier
who spoke to our correspondent in confidence said, “I cannot give you a date as
to when the suspension of the scheduled flight services will be lifted. This is
because the economic parameters in Nigeria are currently so bad that one cannot
plan with it. However, our rotary wing, that is helicopter service and charter
operations are still operating.”

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