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 The two older B737-300s were withdrawn from service.
A reliable source reports that cash-strapped carrier Nigerian Eagle Airlines (formerly Virgin Nigeria Airways) has been acquired by Nigerian businessman Jimoh Ibrahim for $5 million in cash plus the assumption of $250 million in debt. Mr. Ibrahim acquired EAS Airlines in 2006 and re-branded the airline NICON Airways – an unsuccessful venture as the airline was grounded the same year.
More unconfirmed reports: Arik Air may lose three wet-leased Dash 8-Q300s, as the Dutch lessor Denim Air is on the brink of bankruptcy. Earlier this month, Arik already returned four F50s to Denim, after contract renewal negotiations broke down and non-payment by Arik Air. Arik Air employs the Bombardier turboprops on thinner routes to Akure, Ilorin, Katsina, Kano, and Warri. Arik Air owns two Q400s but has not enough capacity to operate all these flights, let alone relaunch flights to Port Harcourt NAF Base and the Arik Niger operations.
Update: Denim Air filed for bankruptcy. One of the reasons given is non-payment by Arik Air. Allegedly, the airline owes Denim Air a few million Euros. It is unclear whether Denim’s Dash 8-Q300s are still operating for Arik Air at the moment, but the cancellation of several routes may be related to the return of the wet-leased aircraft.
Arik Air returned the fourth and last wet-leased Fokker 50 to Denim Air. The Dutch airline is still operating three Dash 8-Q300s for Arik Air. It seems that the F50s are substituted by Arik’s own Dash 8-Q400s on the domestic routes, while it appears that Arik Niger ceased operations altogether. At least, no Arik Niger flights are bookable anymore on the website.
Update: According to Arik Air’s spokesman Ola Adebanji “Arik Niger has only suspended operations and will resume shortly”.
Arik Niger provisionally suspended its operations in November. Reasons cited are the suspension of Niger by the ECOWAS and sanctions by the EU, because of the political situation in the country. However, the airline is currently operating intra-Niger flights as well as a two weekly service to Cotonou, Benin. The flights from Niamey to Abuja, Kano and Lagos seem to be cancelled.
Arik Niger, as a subsidiary of Arik Air, started flights to five destinations in Niger in May 2009. The scheduled flights to Agades, Maradi, Niamey, Tahoua are partly bookable although not advertised on Arik Air’s website. Flights are operated with two F50s wet-leased from Denim Air. It’s unclear how Arik Niger is developing. Some customers complained about cancellations.
Furthermore, Arik Air operates flights to Accra (two daily flights), Cotonou (frequency unknown), and flies the route Freetown-Banjul-Dakar four times a week. There has been no more news on the earlier announced service from Freetown to London Heathrow. Additional flights and new West-African destinations may be in place now Bellview Airlines left the scene.
Recently, the CEO of Arik Air International, announced that the airline plans to launch flights to Togo, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Egypt. He also said several West African states had approached the airline to help set up a national carrier through a franchise or a joint venture.