Contrary to expectations by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited, managers of the Murtala Muhammed Airpot 2, MMA2, that Nigeriaâ€™s biggest airline, Arik Air, will relocate its domestic operations from the General Aviation Terminal, GAT, to MMA2, the airline has announced that it is set to build its own terminal in Lagos, South West Nigeria.
The newly appointed Managing Director of Arik Air, Mr. Chris Ndulue, told journalists at the weekend during a press conference to mark the airlineâ€™s fourth anniversary that Arik Air is only awaiting approval from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, to commence work.
The terminal building, if approved, will be contrary to an agreement signed between FAAN and Bi-Courtney some years ago that all domestic operations in Lagos should take place from MMA2.
â€œWe are hoping that we will have government approval to develop a terminal in Lagos. We want to develop a terminal operated by FAAN and I am surprised as well as you are that the government hasnâ€™t approved it,â€ Ndulue told journalists, with Chairman of 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 no terminal like GAT all over the world,â€ Ndulue said.
He revealed that once the terminal is built and completed, modalities will be worked out with FAAN on how to manage it.
The Chief Operations Officer at MMA2, Mr. Jerome Marinho, however, reiterated that Arik Air has been violating the concession agreement Bi-Courtney signed with FAAN. According to the agreement, he said, the airline should not be allowed by FAAN to operate from GAT.
Marinho said that MMA2 is operating below its capacity at the moment while using an 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 is no electricity from the governmentâ€™s agency, we have to run on generators to maintain that standard for our passengers to be comfortable in our world-class terminal. How can any sensible man operate from GAT? That is not a terminal,â€ he said.
With every passenger travelling through MMA2 paying N1000 to the terminal operators, Arik Airâ€™s 120 domestic flights can greatly boosts Bi-Courtneyâ€™s revenue generation and prevent the first Public Private Partnership in terminal operation in the country from collapsing.
Meanwhile, Arik Air has disclosed that it spent about $6.8 billion (about N900 billion) in its operations since it started business four years ago.
â€œFrom three aircraft on 30 October 2006 when we started operations, presently Arik Air has the largest fleet in Nigeria with 26 short, medium and long range aircraft. Arik Air has carried 5.8 million passengers in four years of operation and now 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 and serves 22 airports across Nigeria, six in West Africa (Cotonou, Accra, Monrovia, Freetown, Banjul, Dakar), one in South Africa (Johannesburg), one in Europe (London Heathrow), and one in America (New York JFK).
â€œArik Air also services 44 routes across the world and has invested over $6.1 billion on aircraft acquisition including orders. We also invested over $2 million on training of cadet pilots in Nigeria (NCAT) and South Africa and another N1 billion on staff training including pilotsâ€™ simulation and $4 million on explosive and narcotic trace devices as well as screening machines,â€ Ndulue said with Arik Chairman adding, â€œthose who say we are indebted should continue to say so.â€