Arik Air scores another first, operates proving flight on Lagos runway 18L

Nigeria’s leading commercial airline, Arik Air, became the first carrier to test the newly re-opened runway 18L at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos on Friday, December 19, 2008.

Nigeria’s leading commercial airline, Arik Air, became the first carrier to test the newly re-opened runway 18L at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos on Friday, December 19, 2008.

Though the runway was officially re-opened on Saturday, December 20, 2008, by the new Aviation Minister, Mr. Babatunde Omotoba, Arik Air had earlier on Friday, December 19, performed the first proving flight on the Lagos Airport runway 18L under the watchful eyes of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) officials.

The proving flight was operated using one of Arik Air’s Boeing 737-700NG, christened “McTighe” with registration number 5N-MJE. The airline’s Chief Pilot, Captain Victor Egonu, was in the cockpit of the flight which touched down at the newly rehabilitated runway 18L at 5:40pm.

The Lagos Airport runway 18L was closed to traffic in August 2006 for rehabilitation work which was originally scheduled to last just a few months. The delay in the completion of rehabilitation work on the runway, which serves the domestic flights, caused untold hardship to airlines and the travelling public. Arik Air alone lost N3 million daily as a result of the closure. This is as a result of the fuel burnt by its aircraft while taxiing to the international runway (runway 18R) and at the holding point.

Arik Air has been recording a number of firsts since it started commercial operations on October 30, 2006. The airline was the first commercial airline to introduce brand new aircraft in Nigeria in over 20 years. Arik Air is also the first commercial airline to connect the Federal Capital, Abuja, with many of Nigeria’s hitherto unserved state capitals and cities like Calabar, Enugu, Owerri, Benin and Warri.

On December 1, 2008, Arik Air took delivery of a brand new Airbus A340-500 aircraft in Toulouse, France, thus becoming the first private operator of that brand of aircraft in Africa. The aircraft has since been deployed on the Lagos-London Heathrow route.

Arik Air is Nigeria’s largest airline with a modern state-of the art fleet of 20 brand new aircraft servicing 19 airports with over 91 flights a day and employing a work force of 1200. For more information on Wings of Nigeria, please visit www.arikair.com