Arik Air is a household name in aviation industry in Nigeria and also the West-Africa’s leading airline with a reputation of operating a domestic, regional and international flight network.
In the year 2006, Arik Air was fully incorporated with the goal of becoming an airline that ‘Nigeria and the rest of the world would be proud to fly’ according to the vision of the company’s Chairman, Sir Arumemi-Ikhide. But on October 30 2006, after the well-monitored completion of successful ‘debut’ flights, Arik Air warmly welcomed passengers on board its brand new Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft, the first new commercial aircraft to operate in Nigeria for over two decades.
As the organisation celebrates five years of successful airline business in Nigeria and West Africa this year October, Mr Simon Cook, Arik Air Associate Vice President Europe was recently contacted in the Central London office to shed more light on some issues relating to the Arik Air and aviation business in Nigeria. Mr Cook was more than ready to grant an exclusive interview with our London correspondent, Dare Lasisi.
“Aviation business in Nigeria has not been so encouraging over the years and that was one of the reasons why Sir Arumemi-Ikhide established an indigenous airline that would not only be the pride of Africa but a beacon of excellence in aviation business throughout the entire world. The lifespan of most airlines in Nigeria is less than three years as the owners often buy second-hand aircrafts from foreign countries, which are not safe to fly with but all Arik Air aircrafts are brand new from day one because air safety is the bedrock of our business.
Mr Cook further asserted that Lufthansa Technik, with Headquarters in Germany, is a world-class aircraft maintenance and engineering corporation and their well-trained aeronautical engineers are now permanently stationed in Nigeria to carry out all maintenances, repairs and servicing of all Arik Air aircrafts.
When asked to explain the customers feedback since inception of the company and also the impression of an airline owned by a Nigerian businessman, Sir Arumeni-Ikhide, Mr Simon Cook did not mince his words and confirmed that customer’s satisfaction is absolutely essential in every business in the world and Arik Air would always strive to provide high grade customer services within the limit of its power and resources.
“I wish to inform you that ARIK AIR is the first Nigerian airline company to organise a Customer Relations conference, whereby our customers sat face to face with our top management team in a relaxed environment with freedom to ask any question regarding our services over the years.
This is just to know their demands and also to evaluate their complaints against our organisation. We always treat our customers with respect and utmost care since they are spending their hard-earned money to patronise our business. We regularly train and re-train our front desk staff and cabin crew members in public management and human relations, which would go a long way in projecting the image of our organisation in a positive way.”
Mr Simon Cook further explained that scarcity of aviation fuel in Lagos, Nigeria is one of the challenges facing the organisation and efforts are in top gear to solve the problem once and for all.
“Nigeria is a well-known oil-producing country but because their refineries are not functioning to cope with oil productions in Nigeria. The country is still importing petroleum products from the Middle East into the country and buying the products four times the normal market price value. We always try not to disappoint our passengers but our airline also requires enough fuel to fly in the sky.”
According to the Associate Vice President Europe for Arik Air, Mr Simon Cook emphasised the need for local patronage among Nigerians, in his words he stated that, “If the British people are patronising British Airways or Virgin Atlantic to fly to Nigeria or United Kingdom then Nigerians must also endeavour to promote and support the growth of their indigenous airline business by flying with them and be ready to give feedback on services obtained from the airline. We need your help and support and make Arik Air the airline that makes the Nigerian people smile.
Arik Air’s economy class has enough ‘leg room’ with adjustable seats, compared to other well-known airlines flying similar routes, with modern in-built entertainments for passenger’s delight and satisfactions. The company is always ready to invest in new modern aircrafts to ensure adequate safety in the air.
“As the popular English proverb says, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you fly in our business class which is cheaper than our competitors in the aviation industry, you would see the ultimate enjoyment in air travel with more than enough ‘leg room’, our beds are fully fitted with automatic massaging facilities and we have just two passengers per aisle and all our business class seats are facing forward and not backward or bent sideways as you could see in the seating arrangements of our close rivals in business”.
“We also serve both Nigerian and international food on our airline on international routes. Since the majority of our frequent flyers are Nigerians, we serve major local dishes and even hot delicious Pepper Soup and Jolof Rice on board.” Mr Simon Cook explained”.
In his final submission to extol the virtues of Arik Air, Mr Cook re-confirmed the company’s agenda of customer’s satisfaction for the growth and development of the business:
“In our own unique way of showing appreciation to our valued customers, we are delighted to announce the launch of Arik Air’s frequent Flyer Programme known as Arik Wings Plus.
This is to reward our loyal customers who have assisted to make Arik Air, Nigeria’s and Africa’s preferred airline among others. Arik Wings Plus members shall be rewarded with free flights, upgrades and vouchers for excess baggage on all our services.
As we progress with this initiative, we will expand the scheme to offer exclusive and innovative rewards to our regular customers wherever they might be in the world, with hotels, weekend breaks, shopping vouchers and tickets to a variety of entertainment events amongst the many offers that they would be able to choose from with their air miles.”
Interview By Dare Lasisi