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Arik, Virgin eye Shell shuttle contract

Posted by By Kunle Owolabi on 2008/01/28 | Views: 785 |

Arik, Virgin eye Shell shuttle contract


Another flank in the battle to enhance local content in the oil and aviation sectors of the economy appears opened with the jostle by Virgin Nigeria and Arik Air for the lucrative air shuttle contract by the Royal Dutch Shell.

Another flank in the battle to enhance local content in the oil and aviation sectors of the economy appears opened with the jostle by Virgin Nigeria and Arik Air for the lucrative air shuttle contract by the Royal Dutch Shell.

Sunday Sun gathered that both airlines are battling to win the contract, which is denominated in dollars.
The contract, which is for the airlifting of Shell workers to and from oil installations in the Niger-Delta region, was for years monopolised by Aero contractors.

Incidentally, while Arik is said to have made a bid for the contract on the understanding that the process would be open and transparent, it is understood that the management of Shell is predisposed to awarding it to Virgin Nigeria in which a British-owned carrier, Virgin Atlantic, has controlling shares.

Virgin spokesman, Mr. Larry Agose, could not be reached to comment on the issue as his cell-phone kept ringing not available. But an official of the airline defended that “What is bad if we bid for a shuttle contract and it is given to us?”. He craved anonymity because “I have not been directed to speak”.
Contacted for his reaction, Arik’s Head of Public Communication, Mr. Gbenga Ogunleye only stated that “We at Arik are committed to offering quality services at all times” and declined further comment.
But informed industry sources disclosed to Sunday Sun that the mood of the Shell management towards Virgin is influenced chiefly by Anglo/Dutch sentiments.

Virgin Nigeria was birthed when Sir Richard Branson, a Briton (owner of the Virgin Group) was engaged by the Obasanjo administration to run a national carrier for the nation with Branson in the commanding position. While Arik is wholly owned by Nigerians.

Since commencing operations in 2006, Arik has blazed a new trail in the industry by deploying brand new aircraft in its fleet. Already, the government of the Niger Republic has adopted Arik as its own national carrier. Last year, the airline further placed order to aeroplane giant, Boeing, for more new vessels valued at $4 billion billed to be delivered between 2008 and 2009.
For the phenomenal purchase, Arik has been able to attract Boeing to take interest in the development of the nation’s aviation infrastructure. Already, Boeing has brought its weight to bear at the nation’s aviation college.

Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria, by donating equipment and sponsoring Nigerians on pilot courses whose value is put at $10 million.
Industry watchers are apprehensive whether the Shell management will go ahead and award the contract to Virgin without an open and competitive process at a time the new administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua places premium on due process.

The development, they insist, is unhealthy for the Nigerian economy since in their opinion, it would only lead to further capital flight from the country even as some of them contended that such step by Shell will be a violation of the local content principle.
Some, who spoke further, wondered if it was not a deliberate policy by Shell to “short-change” the Nigerian economy.

Already, similar sentiments were expressed in the oil industry last week following reports that the oil major is planning to sack many of its Nigerian employees under the guise of “restructuring”, a plan which reportedly earned the company a summons from the Federal Government.
Based on the directive of the Federal Government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is said to have ordered the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) to demand explanation from the Anglo/Dutch multinational.

In an interview with a national daily, Shell’s spokesperson, Mr. Precious Okolobo, confirmed that there is indeed, a plan to “release” some worker in line with the company’s policy to run a single entity to reduce cost and enhance efficiency and accountability.
According to Okolobo, the plan is to help the organisation take advantage of synergies and eliminate duplicity by reorganising the core business functions of its three sister companies to achieve ‘One Shell.’

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.