In just six months from commencement of operations, Arik Air, the new Nigerian airline, has established itself as the leader of the nation’s aviation pack and the airline most ready to serve Nigerians when and where they need to fly.
At a press conference in Lagos today (Wednesday 28th March 2007), Arik Air announced that the airline is preparing to take delivery of three additional new aircraft, further acknowledging its early commitment to build a fleet that ‘Nigerians and the rest of the world will be proud to fly’. Arik Air already has three Bombardier 74 seater CRJ900 aircraft built in 2006 and a fourth CRJ900 built in 2007 will arrive in Lagos this weekend. In addition the airline further announced that two brand new 126 seater Boeing 737-700 aircraft will be the subject of a handover ceremony in Seattle on 25th April before setting off for Lagos in order to fly Central and West African routes for Arik Air in early June. These additional aircraft represent an investment of circa $100m and together with the airline’s two Boeing 737-300, three Dash 8 Q300 operated by Denim Air, two Hawker XP jets and three Bombardier CRJ200 due in May, will swell the fleet to sixteen by June 2007 making Arik Air the largest commercial airline carrier in Nigeria.
The impressive short history of Arik Air Limited started in October 2006 when the first new commercial jet aircraft took to the skies of Nigeria in over 20 years. By February 2007 the airline had already established six domestic routes. There are two more routes planned for Easter to Sokoto and Kano and a total of eleven will be in place by summer 2007.
Today Arik Air flies up to 40 daily flights including The Garden City Express, the airline’s Port Harcourt schedule which operates from Arik Air’s Garden City Terminal at Port Harcourt Military base. Nearly 20,000 passengers have flown this route in just two months and the load factor is already over 90, leading the airline’s other routes which range from an average of over 50 to over 80 on the popular Lagos to Enugu route.
The investment made by Arik Air for the two new aircraft is just the latest addition to an impressive list of achievements in this short time, including the building of the Garden City Terminal; the installation of a new Amadeus based reservation system, Aeropack; the commitment to Lufthansa Technik for a five year maintenance contract; the sponsorship of sixteen students and ten engineers at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology in Zaria and the employment of nearly 500 staff in Nigeria.
At the press conference today, Mike McTighe, Managing Director of Arik Air also unveiled the most up to date model of the new Arik Air Super Hanger which will commence construction at the airline’s Lagos facility at Murtala Muhammed Domestic Airport in May this year, and will be celebrated with the laying of the first foundation stone by both the outgoing and incoming Nigerian Presidents. Expected to be ready by Autumn 2009, the Super Hanger will provide a third party maintenance facility for all airlines and will become the largest facility of its kind in West Africa. The engineering partner for this state of the art technical and maintenance facility is yet to be confirmed but to put a perspective on the scale of the hanger it will easily house an Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-800 – the biggest and the longest aircraft in operation worldwide today. The development of the Super Hanger will reinforce the airline’s commitment to providing all airlines in Nigeria with an opportunity to deliver passengers to their destination in well maintained, safe aircraft.
Mike McTighe commented on the airline’s progress to date: “Over 150,000 passengers have flown with Arik Air since we started operations six months ago and although we have had many challenges, we are extremely proud of what we have achieved and of our plans to grow the airline and its facilities. Very soon we will be the largest commercial airline carrier in Nigeria, and despite this fact we have never lost sight of our commitment to safety and to providing a route network and service that Nigerians both need and want. Our new Boeing 737-700 aircraft will ensure that we can increase our capacity and frequency to Abuja and take on the much needed Central and West African routes. It is very important to us at Arik to ensure that the African market is secured before making the transition into intercontinental routes to the UK and US later this year.”
Brian Walker from Boeing Commercial Airplanes commented on the 737-700 handover: "The proven longevity of the 737 Classics that have flown for many years in Africa is a strong foundation from which we can grow and reinvigorate flight operations with the Next-Generation 737s now joining the Arik Air fleet.”
Mike McTighe sums up: “Arik Air is quietly building a reputation of delivery on its promises and I would like to thank all our staff for their part in delivering our service The Arik Way”
For more information, please contact: Gbemiga Ogunieye, Head of Communications, Arik Air Ltd, Arik Air Aviation Centre, Murtula Muhammed Domestic Airport, PO Box 10468, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: 234 (0) 1 4975940, Mobile: 234 (0) 8039780566