Flights commence between Lagos and Freetown (Sierra Leone), Banjul (Gambia) and Dakar (Senegal).
Arik Air, Nigeria’s leading commercial airline, has announced plans to launch its first services to Africa’s West Coast with the commencement of flight between Lagos and Freetown, Banjul and Dakar, thereby ending years of limited air access between the four cities.
The inaugural flights will take place on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 and the new services will operate four times a week - on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
The start of the new scheduled flights follows the presentation on March 30, 2009, of a Boeing 737-700 ‘City of Freetown’ and a brand new Boeing 737-800NG, aircraft by Arik Air’s management to the Sierra Leonean president, His Excellency, Ernest Bai Koroma.
According to Arik Air’s General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Suraj Sundaram, the commencement of services by the airline between Lagos and the West African nations is strategically important because it will greatly improve accessibility and help to develop stronger economic ties and trade relations between Nigeria and the three West African states.
“We are a value based airline not only offering good value for money without compromising our quality standards, but also ensuring a warm and exciting travel experience on our state-of-the-art aircraft. We believe that our fleet size gives us considerable advantage in offering our guests a greater choice of flights and schedules across West Africa.
“Up until now, there has been limited availability and choice of flights on these routes. We can expect Arik Air’s arrival onto the market to stimulate travel, ease the movement of goods and personnel and provide affordable air travel to communities in the Mano river region,” stressed Sundaram.
Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital and largest city, is a major port and the hub of the country’s administrative, financial and economic activities. Freetown's harbor, the largest natural harbor in Africa is a major commercial shipping port and handles Sierra Leone's main exports - local industries include fish packing, petroleum refining and diamond cutting. Banjul is the main hub of economic activities in Gambia and where the headquarters of the country’s peanut and fishing industries are located, two of Gambia’s important products. Senegal’s capital, Dakar, is a major regional port and an important regional financial center, home to a dozen national and regional banks and to numerous international organisations, NGOs and international research centers.
Michael McTighe, Arik Air’s Managing Director promised that the airline would offer world-class service on the new routes: “We will not compromise on safety and will go the extra mile to ensure the satisfaction of our increasing customer base. This is a new dawn for air transportation on Africa’s West Coast,” McTighe said.
With Arik Air’s extensive domestic network in Nigeria, guests arriving from the West Coast can benefit from a choice of onward connections within the country. Guests on the new West Coast services also have the opportunity to connect to the airline’s daily non-stop flights between Lagos and London Heathrow and between Lagos and Johannesburg.
A state-of-the-art Boeing 737-700 aircraft, configured to carry 124 passengers with 12 business class seats and 112 economy seats, will be used on the new services. It is one of the two latest Boeing 737-700 aircraft delivered to Arik Air in March 2009.
Arik Air is Nigeria’s leading commercial airline. It currently operates a fleet of 27 state-of-the art regional, medium haul and long haul aircraft. The airline serves 19 airports across Nigeria as well as Accra (Ghana), Cotonou (Benin), Niamey (Niger) and London Heathrow (UK).
New daily non-stop flights will begin between Lagos and Johannesburg on 1 June, 2009.
The airline currently operates a combined total of 120 daily flights from its hubs in Lagos and Abuja.
It employs a workforce of 1,400.