Just a few minor reports:
Chanchangi Airlines reduced its daily flights between Lagos and Abuja from five to three. The schedule on their website has not been updated however. Reportedly, the airline has serious financial problems.
Bellview Airlines has postponed the re-start of its Lagos-London service to 1 March, 2010. Again, the airline has sold tickets without being able to provide any flights.
An EMB-170 (PT-TQE) destined for Nigerian Eagle Airlines as 5N-VNJ has been ferried from Brazil to Casablanca. It’s unlikely Nigerian Eagle Airlines will take delivery of the aircraft though, as it wil reportedly be leased to Gulf Air.
Nigerian Eagle Airlines introduced special onboard envelopes on flights across its route network this week to raise funds to support the ongoing humanitarian and rescue activities in Haiti.
The governor of Gombe State announced that a second airline will start daily services to Gombe Airport this year. Arik Air currently has a four weekly service from Abuja to Gombe.
The World Bank financed ten fire trucks for Port Harcourt Airport, but overall the Nigerian agencies are slow in implementing other aviation infrastructure projects.
The new Asaba Airport, Delta State, will be ready for operations in April 2010.
Jos Airport was closed this week due to civil unrest. Aero, Arik Air and Overland Airways cancelled their flights to the airport.
Three new hangars have been built at Lagos Airport, along runway 18L, next to Caverton’s base.
The first hangar is constructed for Quits Aviation Services, the second is Caverton’s base, the third belongs to Evergreen Apple Nigeria, and the fourth is built for Dominion Aviation (Dominion Air is an airline owned by Winners’ Chapel/David Oyedepo).
Akanu Ibiam Airport, Enugu, will be closed to air traffic as from February 10, 2010. The renovation of the airport and extension of the runway by PW Nigeria Ltd. will last about a year.
Flights will be diverted to Imo Airport, Owerri, and helicopter services to Enugu will be put in place.
There are reports that Makurdi Airport will be opened for civil operations. The military will soon conclude an agreement with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA). This news is confusing though, as Sosoliso Airlines operated flights to Makurdi in the recent past and Associated Aviation currently does.
Dana Air has announced that it will commence scheduled operations to Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo, as from Monday, January 18, 2010. The airline will offer services from Uyo to Lagos and Abuja:
- Lagos-Uyo: 9J1999 – 10:35-11:50
- Uyo-Lagos: 9J1998 – 15:30-16:50
- Uyo-Abuja: 9J341 – 12:15-13:25
- Abuja-Uyo: 9J340 – 13:50-15:05
Dana Air suspended its flights to Enugu and reduced the frequency from its daily flights between Lagos and Abuja from six to five, in order to open this new route. The airline has only four MD-83s (ex-Alaska Airlines).
It seems that Arik Air will not return to Akwa Ibom Airport soon, after a row about payments to be made by the state governent.
An unconfirmed report says that a MEA A330 yesterday damaged its left winglet after taxiing into Kabo Air’s B747-200 (5N-JRM). The second aircraft suffered some damage too. The airport is full of parked aircraft at Kano and it appears that the tarmac was badly lighted.
Earlier this week, on Monday, an AirFrance B777 aborted take-off at Lagos Airport because of a technical problem, resulting in a burst tire.
Nigeria will create anti-terror squads and deploy air marshals on flights to the US. A new bill to strengthen counter-terrorism measures is awaiting approval by parliament, according to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. He met the US deputy secretary of Homeland Security to discuss last month’s failed attempt by a Nigerian and requested that Nigeria be removed from a list of 14 countries deemed either state sponsors of terror or “countries of interest”.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has concluded plans to establish an International Helicopter School in Enugu State. The initiative has the support of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). The institute will train officers and civilians to become (helicopter) pilots, air traffic controllers or aircraft maintenance engineers.
Arik Air has launched its first in-flight magazine – Wings – a glossy quarterly magazine featuring an exciting mix of features and interviews, showcasing the very best of Nigeria as well as the latest Arik Air news. The first issue of Wings, available to all passengers on Arik Air, contains wide-ranging articles spanning the worlds of fashion, culture, business and entertainment, with its lead feature offering a colourful look into Nigeria’s best festivals, a fascinating article interspersed with stunning photography.
Read the full first issue of Wings online.
Arik Air has applied to US aviation regulators to continue scheduled flights to United States on wet-lease basis. Its current exemption ends on the 4th of April, 2010, and Arik Air applied for an additional two years. However, there is a small mistake in the application, as it is stated that the airline will use A330-500 equipment.
Since Virgin Nigeria was renamed Nigerian Eagle Airlines few things changed, except that four planes were repainted. Even on its own website, the airline uses both names. More confusing is that the airlines has a Virgin Nigeria-website and a Fly Nigerian-website, with different flight schedules. This should be an issue that can be easily solved, but it looks like they are sticking to the Virgin Nigeria name.
The airline update its schedules and added new flights on the Lagos-Kano-Lagos route:
- LOS-KAN – VK31 – 07:10-08:50 (Monday till Saturday)
- KAN-LOS – VK30 – 18:20-20:00 (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays)
- KAN-LOS – VK30 – 18:40-20:20 (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays)
The B747-400 (4X-ELD) leased by Travel Aviation and Tourism (TAT) Nigeria from El Al for the airlift of Christian pilgrims to Israel, had its left wing damaged yesterday, after hitting and pulling down some electric poles at Abuja Airport. Reportedly, the aircraft taxied on the wrong tarmac before take-off. The nine-hour flight was cancelled and a replacement aircraft will be sent today.
In a series of posts, Nigerian airlines will look back on 2009 and look ahead to 2010. Arik Air is the first airline to inform us about its performance and expectations. We are grateful to Penny Jones for answering the following questions:
What were the highlights and low points for Arik Air in 2009?
2009 saw some significant achievements for Arik Air, perhaps most notably in November with the commencement of operations on our first transatlantic route – from New York, JFK to Lagos – providing the only direct flight available on the route and the first contemporary Nigerian airline to do so. Whilst a huge milestone for Arik Air, the launch of the Lagos – New York route was just one highlight in what has been a busy year for the airline in establishing itself internationally on two different continents, following the launch of daily flights from Lagos and Abuja to London, Heathrow (15 December 2008 and 26 November respectively) as well as Johannesburg (1 June 2009). In addition, on 1st June 2009 Arik Air commenced operations to destinations in West Africa including Banjul (The Gambia), Dakar (Senegal) and Freetown (Sierra Leone), adding to its Accra (Ghana) and Cotonou (Benin) operations, thereby consolidating on a long-term strategy to make the West African region more accessible to travellers.
Obviously the global economic crisis meant that 2009 was a challenging year for the aviation industry as a whole. Arik Air has not been immune to the impact of the recession and the downturn in traffic but we are fortunate to have been able to continue to meet our ambitions to expand throughout the year as planned. The key to Arik’s success in 2009 was to provide our customers with a service that was not previously available – particularly on the Lagos to London route. The feedback we receive tells us that our customers appreciate our world class product and service and our unique Nigerian hospitality, cuisine and entertainment. Arik Air’s mission from the outset has always been to provide Nigeria with an airline to be proud of. Whilst we believe that we have come a long way towards achieving this goal, we are of course mindful that we must continue to surpass expectations by maintaining a high level of service.
What can we expect from Arik Air regarding improvement of customer services, new destinations and routes, and fleet development in 2010?
When you consider what Arik Air has achieved in just three years (the airline commenced scheduled operations on 30th October 2006) it is obvious that 2010 is going to be another exciting year for us. In the long-term we will assess the viability and opportunities afforded by other international markets, however will also seek to consolidate our existing operations domestically as well as regionally and ensure that our standards remain at the very highest level. Arik Air is proud of its world class reputation and we are always conscious not to become complacent if we are to continue to be the dominant airline on the African continent, as well as a model and benchmark for other airlines in the world.
What is the unique selling point of Arik Air for the (Nigerian) air traveller?
Arik Air is the first Nigerian airline that offers a truly world class service on all its routes – whether you are flying to New York or Owerri, we provide passengers the best in-flight service available. Our new aircraft interior spec is fitted with state-of-the-art features for maximum safety and comfort – such as ‘super flat’ beds and bars – which give Arik its competitive edge and is the reason that we are Nigeria’s leading commercial airline. However it is our genuine understanding and knowledge of our travellers that gives us the extra advantage. We know, for example, that our customers like to purchase gifts for their families and friends when they travel overseas, but are often restricted by baggage allowances. Because of this, Arik Air offers a larger baggage allowance than any other carrier on the route – up to 60kgs in Economy Class – and it is this attention to our customers’ needs that keeps us ahead of the competition.
While the Federal Government aims at privatising the airports under FAAN management, several state governments are currently building their own airports. Here is a list of state airports currently under construction or proposed in Nigeria:
- Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo: partly completed
- Anambra State Airport, Umueri: proposed
- Bayelsa Airport, Yenagoa: proposed
- Asaba Airport, Delta State: under construction
- Ekiti State Airport: proposed
- Lagos State, Lekki International Airport: proposed
- Minna Cargo Airport, Niger State, reconstruction proposed
- Ogun State Cargo Airport: proposed
- Osun State Airport, Ido-Osun, under construction
- Jalingo Airport, Taraba State, under construction
- Zamfara Cargo Airport, Gusau: proposed
Time will tell whether all proposed airports will be built eventually. However, a national master plan should be developed to ensure the economic viability of the existing and new airports. Building an airport seems to be one of the most popular prestige projects a Nigerian state governor can think of nowadays.