Recommences operations from Abuja to Calabar, Uyo
By Tunde Osho
Arik Air is considering resuming intercontinental flights just over ten months after a government-backed takeover forced it to retreat into the domestic Nigerian and regional West African markets.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said earlier this week that government had engaged its counterparts in the United Kingdom over Arik’s proposed return to the London Gatwick market. No timelines were disclosed.
Arik last offered regular flights to the UK capital in February of this year just prior to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria’s (AMCON) decision to assume managerial control of the debt-ridden airline.
The move coincided with the termination of long-haul flights to London, Johannesburg O.R. Tambo, and New York JFK has as well as the return of its widebody fleet of two A330-200s to Standard Chartered Aviation Finance.
Since then Arik Air has continued to operate a severely reduced narrow body fleet consisting of just five active B737-700s and one active B737-800.
Its four other -700s are currently inactive as are its fleet of three B737-800s. Arik’s fleet also includes one CRJ-1000ER, four CRJ-900s, and four Dash 8-400s.
The carrier also said it was resuming flight operations on the Abuja-Calabar and Abuja-Uyo routes from December 15.
Communications Manager of the airline, Ola Adebanji, who revealed this in Lagos in a statement, said the airline was increasing its capacity ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations to enable customers celebrate the season with their families and friends.
He said: “The capacity increase which will boost our key domestic routes, especially in the South East and South-South zones, takes effect from Dec.15 to run through January 14, 2018.
“The main highlights of the new schedule are the resumption of Abuja to Calabar and Abuja to Uyo routes which were suspended earlier in the year.
“Arik Air will be flying daily from Abuja to Uyo and five times a week from Abuja to Calabar.
“Similarly, the airline has increased its frequencies between Lagos to Calabar, Lagos to Uyo, Lagos to Enugu, Lagos to Owerri, Abuja to Enugu to daily flights.
“It will operate the Lagos to Asaba route five times weekly during the period.”
According to him, customers that want to fly Arik Air on the Lagos-Port Harcourt route now have an early morning (7 a.m.) departure from Port Harcourt and late evening (5 p.m.) flight from Lagos.
Arik Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Capt. Roy Ilegbodu, said the airline came up with the new schedules because of its love for its intending passengers.
He said that Arik Air was aware that many Nigerians would like to seize the opportunity it offered to celebrate the Yuletide with their loved ones across the country.
“As a caring airline, we have put measures in place to fly customers to their respective destinations during this festive season,” he said.