Nigeria is a country known for its corrupt government, internet scams and a history of failed and troubled airlines. When a government action and an airline collide generally its the passengers that are caught in the middle … which is exactly what happened yesterday, the 10th of August, in Kano, Nigeria.
As passengers sat on board Arik Air Flight 729, at Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, in Northern Nigeria, for their one-hour flight down to Abuja, at 7:05PM, everything seemed normal until it became apparent there was to be a change of plans. As Arik Air Flight 729, a Bombardier CRJ-900, closed its cabin door and began to taxi the aircraft was stopped by officials from Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority, and the aircraft was seized to settle the judgment of a civil lawsuit against the airline. While the seizure and repossession of commercial airplanes is not as uncommon as many people may think, the seizure of a commercial aircraft loaded with passengers, taxiing on the ramp for a short domestic flight is quite unusual … even in places such as Nigeria.
Officials from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority seized the CRJ-900, which Arik Air received new from Bombardier on the 30th of September 2006 at an estimated cost of US$36,500,000, to satisfy a civil judgment of approximately US$1,000,000.
After a brief standoff between the airline and government officials, Arik Air Flight 729’s passengers and baggage were unloaded and left stranded at Kano International Airport awaiting the next available flight … today at 7:05pm.
Arik Air is reportedly working with officials to take back possession of its aircraft, which has a current value of roughly thirty-times that of the judgment it was seized to fulfill.