Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, CBN Governor
By Chinedu Eze
In spite of the passenger surge on domestic routes this Easter holiday, Arik Air has said that it was yet to operate to full capacity.
Arik operates 120 flights daily and airlifts over 12,000 passengers daily.
The airline lamented that lack of airfield lighting at some of the nation’s airports made it inevitable that no airline can operate into such airports beyond 6:00 pm despite the fact that there were passengers travelling to such destinations.
For instance, Arik said it increased its flights to Asaba airport from once a day to three times daily but its flights could not fly to Benin airport after 6:00 pm because for now it is a visual flight rule airport, which means that no aircraft can fly there in the night. According to the airline, it is the same with the airports in Yola, Owerri, Kaduna, Enugu and Ilorin.
The Acting Deputy Managing Director of Arik Air, Ado Sanusi, told THISDAY that the airline was operating at just 60 per cent of its capacity, noting that the airline was capable of doing about 240 but presently doing 120 daily flights.
Sanusi said that the airline's planes are currently being underutilised because they operate average of seven hours daily instead of 11 hours.
“The airline has the capacity to cope with demands of domestic air travellers. With adequate infrastructure at the nation's airports, Arik can deploy its full capacity. We have 23 functional aircraft,” Sanusi said.
He also reiterated that Arik Air had not increased fares in spite of the increasing number of passengers that turned up during the Easter holiday.
Sanusi also said the industry had significantly improved in terms of infrastructural renewal at the airports after many years of neglect and expressed the hope that the remodelling programme would be extended to the airport runways, especially in the provision of airfield lighting.
The acting deputy managing director noted that within two years under the present administration, many of the airports now wear new look and commended the Federal Government for the upgrade of the General Aviation Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, which is the main operational facility of the airline.
“There are a lot of things to be done in the industry to make it better through a deliberate policy of government where the airlines can have operational environment that will enhance their provision of services because aviation is the catalyst of economic development of every nation, but this administration should be commended for what it has done so far,” Sanusi said.
The Ministry of Aviation, Stella Oduah, had recently assured that from this year till the end of 2014, all the airport runways would have airfield lighting and fully upgraded.