Arik Air prioritizes training for Nigerian professionals

For Arik Air the training and development of its staff has always been a corporate priority.

For Arik Air, Nigeria’s leading commercial airline, the training and development of its staff has always been a corporate priority. As the airline continues to implement its strong growth plan and focus on continuous improvement, the sponsorship and development of local Nigerian staff assumes an even greater strategic importance.

Arik Air is currently one of the region’s leading investors in training in the aviation industry, which helps to account for the airline’s robust operations and ever-increasing level of manpower. “As a growing business, we engage in extensive training of personnel to be able to cope with our expanding operations. In the past three weeks alone we have opened services to five new markets: Johannesburg (South Africa), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Banjul (Gambia), Dakar (Senegal) and Katsina here in Nigeria,” said Arik Air Managing Director, Mr. Michael McTighe.

Mr. McTighe added: “The importance of the local Nigerian human factor in our operations cannot be overlooked as we have to provide support for the aggressive route development programme of the airline, more so when we already operate 120 daily flights from our two hubs in Lagos and Abuja. The vast majority of our employees are Nigerian and they play a critical role in the growth of the airline.” “As we strive to remain Nigeria’s airline industry leader, we remain committed to supporting our staff in their job roles so they can meet team goals and the objectives of Arik Air,” Mr. McTighe stressed.

Arik Air’s staff strength currently stands at 1,436 spread over 12 departments in its head office in Lagos and in 17 locations across Nigeria. In addition, the airline maintains personnel in six other countries in West Africa, in the UK and in South Africa. Nigerian locals account for approximately 90 percent of the airline’s total workforce, including pilots, engineers, flight dispatchers and cabin crew. All have undergone professional training by the airline to meet international industry standards. According to the airline’s Human Resources Manager, Mr. Monsur Salam, “the management team fully supports the training and development of staff by providing resources such as finance, equipment, time and opportunities to ensure they have the right skills and knowledge to carry out their roles.”

The airline has invested heavily in the professional training of local Nigerian staff at external institutions and learning centres. To date, 25 employees have benefitted from a Boeing Corporation Airline Planning Program, six underwent Canada’s Bombardier Management Program and six pilots were sponsored on Air Traffic Pilots License training in the US. Another 16 staff, 10 engineers and six flight dispatchers, attended further specialized courses.

At the inception of its operations in 2006, Arik Air instituted a scholarship program aimed at training Nigerian graduates to become pilots, resulting in an initial investment by the airline of N16 million. “At the moment we employ 53 Nigerian pilots and the number is growing constantly,” says the airline’s Director Flight Operations, Captain Ianko Stoimenov. “All pilots are trained with the best international training partners in the industry, including Oxford Aviation, Alteon Boeing and Flight Safety. These pilots are now privileged to fly the most modern fleet in Africa. As we expand our operation we strive to employ every available Nigerian pilot who meets the company’s criteria,” Captain Stoimenov pointed out. The airline’s Nigerian Chief Pilot, Captain Victor Egonu went on to explain: “We have already sponsored 15 cadet pilots in the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) in Zaria, and this year another 15 candidates will take their first steps towards the skies of Nigeria, thanks to sponsorship by Arik Air.”

In response to customer feedback, Arik Air management has also now invested in the provision of customer service refresher training for is frontline staff. Attendance is mandatory. Mr. Mc Tighe explained: “Integral to the culture of staff training and development is the implementation of the airline’s customer-focused philosophy.” “When it comes to fraud and corruption, the airline maintains a zero tolerance policy. If evidence is obtained of such practices involving staff, immediate action is taken,” he added.

Arik Air is Nigeria’s leading commercial airline. It operates a fleet of 27 state-of-the art regional, medium haul and long haul aircraft. The airline currently serves 20 airports across Nigeria as well as Accra (Ghana), Cotonou (Benin), Niamey and Agadez (Niger), London Heathrow (UK) and Johannesburg (South Africa).

New services commenced on 3 June from Lagos to Freetown (Sierra Leone), Banjul (Gambia) and Dakar (Senegal), 4 times each week. On 7 June, the airline began service between Abuja and Katsina.

The airline currently operates 120 daily flights from its hubs in Lagos and Abuja.

It employs more than 1,400 staff.