President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 visited Arik Air Aviation Centre at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos to acquaint himself with operations of the airline.
President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 visited Arik Air Aviation Centre at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos to acquaint himself with operations of the airline. President Koroma, who was on a two-day visit to Nigeria, was received by the top management of the airline led by the Managing Director, Mr. Chris Ndulue.
The Sierra Leonean President was conducted round the facilities at Arik Air including the airline’s state-of-art Operations Control Centre (OCC) and the maintenance hangar. He expressed satisfaction with the facilities in place at the airline’s headquarters.
Speaking with journalists shortly after the departure of President Koroma, Ndulue said the visit was to cement the existing relationship between the airline and the Sierra Leonean government.
He disclosed that Arik Air has entered into a joint venture agreement with the government of Sierra Leone to incorporate an airline, Leone Airways which will be the country’s national carrier.
Ndulue elaborated on the visit: “President Koroma came on a courtesy visit to Arik headquarters so he can familiarize himself with our operational base. He was very impressed with what he saw.”
He stated that the new Leone Air will operate the Freetown to London route and that structures are being put in place to enable the new airline start operations soon.
Arik Air, according to Ndulue, is not new to the government and people of Sierra Leone as the airline has been operating flights between Lagos and Freetown since June 2009. He therefore sees the new joint venture as a vote confidence in the airline.
Arik Air was founded in 2006 and started commercial operations on October 30, 2006 between Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt with three brand new Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft becoming the first CRJ900 operator on the African continent and the first airline to introduce new commercial aircraft into Nigeria in over 20 years.
Arik Air is Nigeria’s leading commercial airline. It now operates a fleet of 26 state-of-the art regional, medium haul and long haul aircraft including two Airbus A340-500 making the airline the first operator of the wide bodied aircraft in Africa.
The airline currently serves 30 airports across Nigeria as well as Accra (Ghana), Banjul (Gambia), Cotonou (Benin), Dakar (Senegal), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Monrovia (Liberia), London Heathrow (UK), Johannesburg (South Africa) and New York JFK (USA).
The airline operates a combined number of over 150 daily flights from its hubs in Lagos and Abuja.