2010 Outlook: Arik Air

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.

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