Arik Air introduced a new pricing system that allows for cheaper domestic fares through advanced purchasing. The new lower fares apply to tickets bought 14 days in advance of the required travel date by passengers. The management of Arik Air previously maintained that only high fixed prices could make its operations in Nigeria profitable.
Aero and Air Nigeria also offer lower prices to customers who book their tickets online and in advance.
Kenya Airways and Afriqiyah Airways are seeking landing rights at Abuja. Both airlines already operate flights to Lagos.
Meanwhile, Air Ivoire suspended its service to Lagos and EgyptAir has been cancelling flights in the past days due to the civil unrest.
Overland Airways cancelled its flights from Abuja and Lagos to Jos, Katsina and Minna. It appears these routes are not profitable, even when operated with small propellor aircraft (ATR42 and Beech 1900).
The airline retains a five weekly service (Monday-Friday) between Abuja, Ilorin, Ibadan and Lagos.
Per 1 February 2011, Arik Air will commence af five weekly (Monday-Friday) service between Port Harcourt NAF Base (Garden City Terminal) and Warri Airport (Osubi Airstrip). Flights will be operated with Dash 8-Q400 aircraft.
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The FAA partly approved the application for approval of a code-share agreement by Air Nigeria and Delta Air Lines:
Approved in part, subject to conditions (statement of authorization for Air Nigeria to transport Delta code-share traffic on flights operated by Air Nigeria between points in Nigeria and beyond Nigeria to any open-skies point or points), remainder (statement of authorization for Air Nigeria to transport Delta code-share traffic on flights operated by Air Nigeria between the United States and Nigeria) deferred.
Arik Air introduced its Frequent Flyer scheme – Arik WingsPlus – today. The customer loyalty programme will reward members with free flights, upgrades to Business Class and vouchers for excess baggage on all international services. Passengers can earn miles on each international sector and can be redeemed across the network. Accruing miles varies accordingly to sector and once a sector has been travelled, customers have the ability to redeem a domestic flight within 14 working days.
For example, flying one-way in Business Class from New York to Lagos will earn 5,000 miles. To redeem a Business Class ticket as an Arik WingsPlus member on any domestic flight will be 5,000 miles so by flying one long-haul route you will have enough miles for a free domestic flight. Business Class customers on Lagos/ Abuja to London and Lagos to Johannesburg routes will earn 3,000 and 2,500 miles respectively whilst those Business Class customers flying Lagos/ Abuja to Accra (Ghana), Cotonou (Benin), Dakar (Senegal), Banjul (Gambia), Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Monrovia (Liberia) will earn 800 miles on a one way sector. As well as earning and redeeming on flights, the scheme also allows customers to redeem miles for excess baggage vouchers. Arik currently offers one of the largest allowances in the industry (2 x 30kgs on long-haul flights) and Arik WingsPlus will afford even more opportunity to add another 30kgs to the allowance. For existing customers, and to recognise and reward past loyalty, Arik Air is offering the opportunity to claim up to 50% mileage accrual for travel undertaken in the period between 1st July 2010 and 23rd January 2011.
Dr Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, CEO of Arik Air, said of the launch of Arik WingsPlus: “The introduction of Arik WingsPlus is one more noteable milestone in the development of Arik Air. There was an increasing demand from our growing loyal customer base to reward this loyalty and we have reacted to that. We feel that this will further establish Arik Air as the preferred carrier of choice in West Africa.”
Arik Air also promised various other measures to improve passenger services.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) temporarily suspended some operations of Aero, Dana Air, Chanchangi Airlines and IRS Airlines yesterday over their inability to pay up their debts to the authority. Explaining that airline operators in Nigeria are not responding positively in paying up their dues, the agency said that it will not hesitate to shut down the operations of persistent defaulters in the sector, adding that the grounding of airlines negatively impact on the travelling public.
According to Arik Air’s senior vice-president commercial Kevin Steele, the airline plans nine new destinations in 2011: Bamako, Ouagadougou, Kinshasa, Luanda, Abidjan, Houston, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi and probably a new domestic route to Ibadan, Makurdi or Asaba. Arik Air will focus on better revenue and yield management, better aircraft utilisation and improving its sales channels to ensure it becomes profitable this year.
“While we are eyeing other destinations, these are cities for which we already have the aircraft and crews available by using our aircraft better.” Average aircraft utilisation is six-and-a-half hours a day per aircraft, and the lack of navigational aids in Nigeria have limited flight largely to daylight operations.
“We have to focus on simple things like reviewing our network and concluding interlining agreements to provide better connectivity for our passengers. We are also looking, for example, at driving more advance fare purchases within the Nigeria market.” Another big step forward for Arik is the completion of the International Air Transport Association’s Operational Safety Audit last year to allow Arik to conclude code-share agreements with other association airlines and help it entrench a culture of focusing on the details in the business.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has reissued an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) to Air Nigeria. The airline now has its own AOC and no longer operates on the certificate issued to Virgin Nigeria Airways. As far as is known, the Virgin Group still has a stake of 49% in Air Nigeria.
Arik Air continued its steady growth in passenger figures in 2010 with a total of 2,302,758 passengers. This represents a 15% increase over the 2009 figure. The month of December 2010 was exceptional for the airline as it carried 241,700 passengers. The daily passenger record peaked at 10,164 passengers on Thursday, December 23, 2010, the highest ever since the airline started operations in 2006.
Arik Air now serves 20 domestic and 9 international destinations. The airline opened Monrovia as only new destination in 2010. Arik Air temporarily suspended but resumed operations to Uyo, Enugu and Port Harcourt NAF Base, while the Abuja-Dakar, Abuja-Banjul, Lagos-Ilorin and Lagos-Akure routes were cancelled. Arik Air also shut down its activities in Niger (Agades, Maradi, Niamey, Tahoua, Zinder).
Finally, the airline accepted two new aircraft in 2010: a A330-200 and a B737-800. The wet-leased fleet of Dash8s and F50s was returned to Denim Air. The two older B737-300s were withdrawn from service.
Per 1 February 2011, Delta Air Lines will reduce its two weekly Abuja-Accra-Atlanta service to one weekly flight departing on Fridays. Meanwhile, the Lagos-Atlanta service will be reduced from six to five weekly, with no flights on Mondays and Fridays. However, the airline will service Lagos daily again from 1 May 2011, when it will make an equipment change from B777 to A330.
Construction work will soon begin on the new Umaru Musa International Cargo Airport in Okordia/Zarama near the Bayelsa State capital Yenagoa. The airport will start off as a local airport to handle mid-size jets but it has potential for expansion. Some argue that the airport is redundant with several other airports in neighbouring states.
Recently, two aircraft belonging to new operators were spotted in Nigeria. Does anyone know more about the owners (follow the links for pictures)?
Air Nigeria is currently recruiting pilots for Airbus A340 aircraft. It appears the airline intends to resume international flights this year.
Arik Air partly cancelled its order with Boeing last year. After the cancellation of three B77Ws and seven B738s, the airline now still has two B77Ws, eight B738s and seven B789s on order. Arik Air earlier cancelled the remaining two Dash 8 Q400s it ordered from Bombardier as well as a second Airbus A330-200. It seems the airline also withdrew two old B733s (5N-MJA and MJB) from active service.
A few bits of news:
- The first international flight from Akwa Ibom Airport, Uyo, will be operated on 8 January 2011. Sky Airlines will operate the charter flight and carry 215 Christian pilgrims to Tel Aviv, Israel, with a B737-900. An A330-200 will carry another 324 pilgrims next week. This is the first widebody airline to land in Uyo.
- IRS Airlines will acquire three more F100s this year and intends to open the Abuja-Calabar route. Calabar would be the airline’s eight domestic destination.
- The FAAN has acquired 5 fire tenders for Lagos Airport, new toilets have been installed at the airport, and the agency promised to boost power supply.
- The FAAN also increased security measures at the airports throughout Nigeria.
The new domestic terminal building of Mallam Aminu International Airport, Kano, will be commissioned on 27 January 2011.
- Ekiti State has to speed up the commencement of work on the new Ekiti Airport.
- Arik Air aims to consolidate its position in the new year and expand a little bit in West-Africa. The airline also hopes to carry Christian pilgrims from Enugu Airport to Israel.
- Air India may resume flights from Mumbai to Lagos this year, meanwhile China Southern has again cancelled the announced Guangzhou-Dubai-Lagos service.