Kinfe Kahssaye, the Chief Executive Officer of AirNigeria, has resigned from the troubled airline.
SaharaReporters learnt that Mr. Kahssaye finally decided to step down yesterday after discovering that the airline was unlikely to return to business. Air Nigeria has been dogged by huge debts owed to commercial banks by its owner, Jimoh Ibrahim. Mr. Ibrahim, a rogue businessman with a reputation for taking over well-known businesses and then running them aground, has been unable to meet his airline’s obligations to service providers in Nigeria and around the world.
A source at the grounded airline told SaharaReporters that Mr. Ibrahim’s inability to provide funds to get the last two planes in the airline’s fleet airworthy led to Mr. Kahssaye’s decision to resign his appointment yesterday.
Mr. Kahssaye recently returned from trips to the US and the UK. A source disclosed that the overseas trips were a desperate attempt to revive the comatose AirNigeria. “He found out during the trips that the dream of saving the airline is a hopeless one,” said our source.
The virtual collapse of the airline adds to the business woes of its owner, Mr. Ibrahim. The shady businessman is also embroiled in a public and legal feud with the original directors and founders of Newswatch, Nigeria’s premier news magazine. After acquiring controlling stakes in the magazine, Mr. Ibrahim made a bizarre decision to shut it down. The original founders, including the magazine’s CEO Ray Ekpu, accused Mr. Ibrahim of fraud, asserting that he had not paid the agreed sum for his majority stake in the weekly publication. The Newswatch case is headed for the courts.
Recently, Mr. Ibrahim unilaterally fired majority of workers at the airline with due process, the workers in turn embarked on street protests to push back against the businessman.
SaharaReporters learnt today that Mr. Ibrahim’s workers at his Abuja NICON Luxury Hotels are gearing up for a protest tomorrow in Abuja over poor conditions of service and nonpayments of wages.
Mr. Kinfe is owed five months of unpaid wages according to insiders knowledgeable about his resignation.