Nigeria's largest airline temporarily suspends operations

PUBLISHED: Wed, 14 Sep 2016 07:43:19 GMT

 Arik Air, Nigeria’s largest airline, cancelled all of its flights on Tuesday in what it called a temporary disruption related to insurance renewal, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The company warned the disruption was likely to continue for the next few days as it awaited approve from national insurance commission NAICOM to renew its insurance with a new company. It did not say why it had changed insurance companies.

Arik, which has services to London, New York and Johannesburg, said it was “working around the clock” to resume operations.

“We are fully committed to returning to our normal operations and minimize any unfortunate inconvenience to our passengers,” Arik Chief Executive Michael Arumemi-Ikhide said in the statement.

Nigerian airlines and international carriers operating within the country have struggled with a plunge in the local currency, the naira, that has made it difficult to get U.S. dollars to buy jet fuel and also to remain profitable as passengers pay in naira.

Two other local carriers, Aero Contractors and First Nation, recently suspended operations, though the government said both would eventually reopen.

International carriers United and Iberia stopped their services to Nigeria earlier this year, while others have begun refuelling abroad to avoid jet fuel shortages. International airlines have complained about the difficulty of repatriating millions of dollars worth of fares sold in local currency.

(Reporting by Libby George; editing by Susan Thomas)

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