Sunday, April 5, 2009

Arik Air now opens Lagos-Freetown-London flights

Nigeria’s leading carrier, Arik Air, has been designated Sierra Leone’s flag carrier and will resume flight operations between Freetown and London in October this year.
Arik Air which started flight operations into Freetown on Monday using Boeing 737 -700 NG aircraft, will also dedicate a B737- 800 on the Freetown – London flights.
Joseph Arumeni–Johnson, chairman, Arik Air, who spoke in Freetown during the inaugural the flight of the airline on the Lagos–Freetown route noted that the new B737 -700 NG plane would be dedicated to flights between Lagos Nigeria and other West African states.
Appealing to Sierra Leone’s President to designate Arik as its flag carrier, Arumeni–Johnson said at the Freetown International Airport, Lungi: “This aircraft is yours, as well as the B737-800 named Eddington after my father, as well as another one that will be coming in October which we will ask the President of Sierra Leone to name, are all yours. All we are asking is that you designate Arik as your national carrier and we will not disappoint you in the area of safety and security”.
Arumemi promised that Nigeria and his company will continue to give necessary assistance in the areas of energy and aviation to Sierra Leone. The Arik chairman was in Freetown in company of the minister of aviation, Babatunde Omotoba, director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Harold Demuren and management of the airline.
Ernest Koroma, president of Sierra Leone, while receiving the aircraft and the Nigerian delegation said that the gesture from Arik was a symbolic one as it heralds air traffic movement between the two nations. According to him, the opening of the route by the airline will strengthen the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) brotherhood.
“You have come at an important time, which is a period that air transport will be made easy within West Africa, as well as make transportation easy to Europe and America”, he said.
He assured that his government would support and give enabling environment to Arik, in order to ensure that flight operations are not disrupted while there would also be adequate security for the aircraft.
Also speaking at the event, minister of aviation, Babatunde Omotoba, said “today marks not only a new era for aviation in Sierra Leone, but it also further strengthens the deep rooted ties between Nigeria and Sierra Leone ”.
According to him, the challenges encountered by Africans in the past in the areas of air transportation have brought Africans together to develop new ideas in times of trials and tribulations.
“Unfortunately, not all are aware of the impact that aviation has in growing economies”, he said, adding that air transportation generates about 470,000 direct and indirect jobs across Africa.