Facts emerged that Arik Air suspended its flight operations in order not to run foul of the provisions of the Montreal Convention 1999, which specified mandatory adequate insurance covering of liability of any airline while in international flight operations.
This is even as the Airline still risked being grounded in less than a month’s time, precisely on 12th October 2016 on account of inability to ensure full compliance to the insurance requirements.
The Montreal Convention is a multilateral treaty adopted by a diplomatic meeting of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) member states in 1999. It emphasizes safety precautions including insurance in aviation industry.
Arik had last Tuesday, 13th September 2016, suddenly suspended flight operations over its inability to conclude its insurance renewal, and consequently, left all its passengers, especially those on international routes stranded in various airports. However, it resumed normal operations on 14th September, after barely 24 hours shutdown.
Further, The Guardian learnt at the weekend that although Arik Air had resumed operations, it has not fully complied with the stringent insurance requirements as the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), had merely granted it one month’s grace approval in principle.
Responding on the role NAICOM, the apex insurance regulator in Nigeria, played in resolving the hiccups associated with the Arik Air insurance, a top official of the NAICOM told The Guardian that the approval in principle granted to the airline was for one month effective September 13, 2016.
According to him, “NAICOM granted Assurance approval in principle on Arik Air Insurance for one month effective 13th September, 2016. This followed the request for approval submitted by the insurer on Friday, September 9, 2016.”
According to Article 50 of the Montreal Convention 1999, which deals with insurance, “State Parties shall require their carriers to maintain adequate insurance covering their liability under this convention. A carrier may be required by the State Party into which it operates to furnish evidence that it maintains adequate insurance covering its liability under convention.”
Further, Article 1 (2) of the Convention states: “ For the purposes of this convention, the expression international carriage means any carriage in which according to the agreement between parties, the place of departure and the place of destination, whether or not there be a break in the carriage or a transshipment, are situated either within the territories of two states, parties or within the territory of a single state party of there is an agreed stopping place within the territory of another state, even if the state is not a state party.
“Carriage between two points within the territory of a single state party without an agreed stopping place within the territory of another state is not international carriage for the purposes of this convention.”
When contacted on the Arik Air crisis, the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Fan Ndubuoke, explained that the Airline had put its operations on hold pending the normalisation of its insurance papers with the NCAA, adding however that it had since restored operations on 14th September, 2016.
The Communications Manager of the airline, Ola Adebanji, had explained that the disruption was temporary, pending approval of aircraft documentation related to insurance renewal.
He said: “This situation is likely to continue for the next few days until such time that the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) approves a waiver on a priority basis for the new insurance company to renew the policy.”