Low turnout as Arik resumes operation – The Cable

Arik Air, the largest domestic airline in Nigeria, is currently experiencing a low turnout of travellers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, TheCable can confirm.

The airline, which suspended activities on Tuesday, announced its intention to resume work at 11am on Wednesday.

“Arik Air, West and Central Africa’s largest airline, is pleased to announce that scheduled flights will resume from 11 am tomorrow, Wednesday September 14, 2016,” the airline had said in a statement signed by Ola Adebanji, its public relations officer.

The airline’s first flight since the suspension took off at about 11:48am on Wednesday, and a ticketing agent with the airline in Lagos, who did not want to be named, told TheCable that the airline was experiencing a low turnout.

“The first flight left before 12 noon today. The turnout is less than the usual flow,” he said.

“You don’t expect our fingers to be equal immediately. Its a matter of time, everything will pick up.

“Many of the passengers we had today were the ones who had initially booked an earlier ticket, and rescheduled. Arik went to Abuja, Benin, and some other routes I can’t confirm now, but it flew its normal routes.”

The airline had earlier said its activities were being impacted by the rise in aviation fuel prices across the country.

Arumemi Ikhide, the founder of the airline, said in an interview, that government policies were not favouring domestic airlines.

“Government policies, or central bank policies do not favour us. For example, the CBN said that 60 percent of foreign inflow should be for manufacturers. They’ve forgotten that the engine of any economy is air travel,” he said.

“I consider that all my colleagues and I (are) doing national service. You don’t even get fuel; fuel prices are shooting off the roof. Before the flexible exchange rate was introduced, we were buying fuel for about N110 per litre.

“Now it’s N215 per litre and you can’t even get it. The situation in the country is not favourable to the airlines at all.”

Aviation fuel remains a challenge in the sector, with airlines having to refuel outside the country to beat the N400-per-litre price in oil-rich Nigeria.