Arik Air made history recently with the delivery of its 7th Bombardier aircraft while marking its seventh anniversary, bringing its fleet to a total of 26 modern aircraft.
The airline's Bombardier is the first new aircraft into Nigeria, 20 years after the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited brought its last airplane into the country. Also Arik is the first of the existing operators to fly to New York, more than 10 years after the last Nigerian carrier landed in the United States.
Today, it is the only Nigerian carrier that operates long haul destinations and from all indications, the airline is poised to expand its international operation with the delivery of more aircraft.
The ceremony to mark the arrival of the aircraft and 7th anniversary of the company, which took place in Lagos, attracted financiers, aircraft manufacturers, international airlines and technical partners.
Arik Air used the anniversary event to showcase the new Bombardier CRJ 1000 NG aircraft which flew in from the Bombardier factory in Canada to its hangar at the airport.
Group CEO, Arik Air, Dr. Michael Arumemi-Ikhide said: "From our humble beginnings seven years ago, Arik’s quest to transform (for the good) the flying experience within our great nation has seen us spread our wings across 19 domestic destinations, eight West and Central African routes, and three long-haul markets covering South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.”
According to him, they remain conscious of the great work before them, and stand poised to boldly take up the noble challenge laid down by their chairman, they are, nevertheless, humbled and encouraged by their achievements to date including their ascent to the status as Nigeria’s and West Africa’s premier indigenous carrier.
He said mindful of the enormous challenge before the airline, he said the aspiration of the Arik Air is to continue to expand and also actualise its objective of being a global player that would grow in tandem with the ever growing Nigeria’s travelling public.
“We remain conscious of the global challenge in the sector and we want to develop the industry not only in Nigeria, but in the West African continent. I want to appreciate friends and colleagues and business partners who have stood behind us for several years. We want to improve the quality of flying and improve the economy of the country. Presently, we have 26 aircraft in our fleet with 70 per cent of them brand new,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe said that government would continue to support the aviation sector, considering its important in the economy of the country.
“We will continue to do what we have to do to make the Nigerian aviation industry compete with those we have in the developed world. We will continue to provide efficient infrastructure and improve safety in the sector. We also want to commend the strategic partners in the sector for helping to grow the sector and early next year,” he said.
Former Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia said Arik Air made history with its partnerships, pointing out that its relationship with Lufthansa Technic made the airline and international brand.
He added that since the airline started operation it has been successful and hoped that it would continue to grow to become one of the few outstanding carriers in Africa.