This Day (Lagos)

11 January 2013

Nigeria: Govt Is Frustrating Nigerian Airlines, Says Arik Chairman

The Chairman of Arik Air, Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, has said it is wrong to describe Nigerian airlines as weak, when the government is frustrating them.

Arumemi-Ikhide stated this on Wednesday at Arik Air headquarters in Lagos, at a meeting between the airline and the government of Cote D'Ivoire, which planned to partner the Nigerian carrier to expand its operations in Africa.

He said there were things government must do to enhance the operations of the local operators and it was expected that government should carry out these responsibilities to reposition the airlines to operate profitably and successfully.

The Arik Air chairman gave an example of the waiver on imported aircraft and spares, which government announced recently saying that it was yet to be enforced and urged the Nigerian Customs Service to enforce the new policy.

Arumemi-Ikhide also noted that the aircraft in the airline's fleet was underutilised because in many airports in the country there is no airfield lighting; so airlines are forced to terminate their operations by 6.00 pm even when passengers are yearning to be taken to these destinations.

Arumemi Ikhide described the visit of officials of Cote d ' Ivoire as positive, which confirms the stride the airline is making in the continent, adding that the airline is a good model for other African carriers to emulate and called on government to continue to support local operators.

Speaking at the event, the officials of Air Cote D ' Ivoire , the new carrier in the French speaking West African country, said they visited Arik Air to seek ways of exploring mutual partnership between the two carriers to resolve the problem intra Africa connections.

The officials led by General Coulibaly Abdoulaye, who is chairman of the Air Cote D'Ivoire explained that the visit to Arik Air has afforded them the opportunity to learn how to run a service driven airline, which would become a model in Africa.

He explained that the partnership would also equip the carrier with the strategy of achieving how to build a hub for the southern part of Central Africa, remarking that since the former regional carrier, Air Afrique collapsed, there had been no direct air link between Nigeria and Cote D'Ivoire.

He further explained that the best model for building stronger airlines in Africa was through partnership among carriers, insisting that the visit to Arik Air has afforded the officials the window to obtain first-hand experience of running a service oriented airline.

He explained that after the visit, both Arik Air and Air Cote D' Ivoire would work out a template for mutual cooperation, which he said was key to running a solid carrier.

"We are pleased with what we have seen today at the airlines premises, it is a positive surprise. We are pleased to meet an airline that is serious, well-managed, and cost-effective as the basis for future business in Africa."

The Director-General of Air Cote D'Ivoire, Rene Decurey, who was highly impressed by the operations of the airline and its modern, state-of-the-art facilities said that Arik Air would assist the new airline to open market in English-speaking parts of the African continent.

"We want to know how Arik can help us develop the market in English speaking areas of Africa. Nobody is exploiting the routes between Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire. After (the defunct) Air Afrique our airline wants to retain its routes."

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