By Omo Gabriel
LAGOSâ€”TOP Nigerian tycoon and Group Managing Director of NICON Group and Global Fleet, Chief Jimoh Ibrahim, weekend, bought over Virgin Nigeria Airline, the nation’s official carrier.
Ibrahim, during an interactive session with select journalists in his Energy House, Broad Street, Lagos office, said the acquisition of Virgin Nigeria Airline followed the successful negotiation and eventual take-over of the airline on Friday, a process which started last year.
Although he did not give details of the transaction, he simply said that he now has the controlling shares of the company. With him at the meet was the Managing Director of the Virgin Nigeria, Captain Dapo Olumide.
Ibrahim said: â€œThe take-over has also recorded its first casualty with the redeployment of the Executive Director, Finance. The turn-around will start with a diagnostic review of all files and status reports of the company and will take up to two years.â€
While assuring Nigerians and stakeholders in the aviation industry that all would be done to safeguard the integrity of the nation, Ibrahim stressed that â€œthe turn-around of Virgin would be conservative and arithmetical.â€ Though he did not rule out the possibility of geometric growth, he noted that safety and human resources development would be his topmost priority.
The turnaround expert had also directed that all maintenance contracts be left completely in the hands of Lufthansa Technik and directed the payment of all outstanding indebtedness.
He said: â€œWe have made payments of all outstanding to Lufthansa Technik as at close of business and they will be responsible for the fleet without interference. I also directed that the managing director should commence the process of acquisition of three aircraft that are already outstanding and it must be completed before May ending.â€
Ibrahim said the company which has five aircraft at the moment will increase its fleet to seven by the end of May, adding that the airline will be re-branded while a name change will follow. shortly.
Asked about the future of NICON Airways, Ibrahim said the airline was neither forced out of business by the regulators nor liquidated, stressing that he ordered its suspension to give room for its re-launch into the aviation industry. He said the present transaction would provide another opportunity for NICON Airways to merge with Virgin.
The Managing Director/CEO Virgin Nigeria, Captain Olumide in his executive summary tasked the staff of Virgin Nigeria Airline to brace up to the challenges that this turnaround may pose and assured them that all will be done to ensure a successful outing.
According to him, safety and human resources are top priority of the turnaround.
Ibrahim said the Board of Directors of the airline at its meeting on Friday passed a vote of confidence on its Managing Director, Captain Olumide, adding that he remained the MD/CEO.