1st November, 2010
Contrary to expectations by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, managers of theÂ Murtala Muhammed Airpot 2, MMA2, that Nigeriaâ€™s biggest airline, Arik Air, willÂ relocate its domestic operations from the General Aviation Terminal, GAT, to MMA2,Â the airline has announced that it is set to build its own terminal in Lagos, SouthÂ West Nigeria.
The newly appointed Managing Director of Arik Air, Mr. Chris Ndulue, toldÂ journalists at the weekend during a press conference to mark the airlineâ€™s fourthÂ anniversary that Arik Air is only awaiting approval from the Federal AirportsÂ Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, to commence work.
The terminal building, if approved, will be contrary to an agreement signed betweenÂ FAAN and Bi-Courtney some years ago that all domestic operations in Lagos shouldÂ take place from MMA2.
â€œWe are hoping that we will have government approval to develop a terminal in Lagos.Â We want to develop a terminal operated by FAAN and I am surprised as well as you areÂ that the government hasnâ€™t approved it,â€ Ndulue told journalists, with Chairman ofÂ Arik Air, Sir Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide Johnson nodding in approval.
â€œTerminal is a major challenge for us and GAT is grossly inadequate. There is noÂ terminal like GAT all over the world,â€ Ndulue said.
He revealed that once the terminal is built and completed, modalities will be workedÂ out with FAAN on how to manage it.
The Chief Operations Officer at MMA2, Mr. Jerome Marinho, however, reiterated thatÂ Arik Air has been violating the concession agreement Bi-Courtney signed with FAAN.Â According to the agreement, he said, the airline should not be allowed by FAAN toÂ operate from GAT.
Marinho said that MMA2 is operating below its capacity at the moment while using anÂ average of 50, 000 litres of diesel every week to run the terminal on generators.
â€œThe temperature of every terminal building should be 22 degrees. But when there isÂ no electricity from the governmentâ€™s agency, we have to run on generators toÂ maintain that standard for our passengers to be comfortable in our world-classÂ terminal. How can any sensible man operate from GAT? That is not a terminal,â€ heÂ said.
With every passenger travelling through MMA2 paying N1000 to the terminal operators,Â Arik Airâ€™s 120 domestic flights can greatly boosts Bi-Courtneyâ€™s revenue generationÂ and prevent the first Public Private Partnership in terminal operation in theÂ country from collapsing.
Meanwhile, Arik Air has disclosed that it spent about $6.8 billion (about N900Â billion) in its operations since it started business four years ago.
â€œFrom three aircraft on 30 October 2006 when we started operations, presently ArikÂ Air has the largest fleet in Nigeria with 26 short, medium and long range aircraft.Â Arik Air has carried 5.8 million passengers in four years of operation and nowÂ controls over 40% of the total domestic market share.
â€œArik Air does about 150 daily flights from its two hubs in Lagos and Abuja andÂ serves 22 airports across Nigeria, six in West Africa (Cotonou, Accra, Monrovia,Â Freetown, Banjul, Dakar), one in South Africa (Johannesburg), one in Europe (LondonÂ Heathrow), and one in America (New York JFK).
â€œArik Air also services 44 routes across the world and has invested over $6.1Â billion on aircraft acquisition including orders. We also invested over $2 millionÂ on training of cadet pilots in Nigeria (NCAT) and South Africa and another N1Â billion on staff training including pilotsâ€™ simulationÂ andÂ $4 million on explosiveÂ and narcotic trace devices as well as screening machines,â€ Ndulue said with ArikÂ Chairman adding, â€œthose who say we are indebted should continue to say so.â€