Arik Air Adds Uyo to Domestic Network


Crew line-up at Uyo apron

Crew line up after landing in Uyo

Arik appears relentless in spreading its wings to as many domestic destinations as possible.  Akwa Ibom state’s pride in opening its new airport near Uyo could not have come at a better time when Arik has demonstrated a willingness to develop new routes to Nigeria’s hinterland.  For Arik and a few other daring airlines, this implies running at an initial loss while keeping in mind the long-term benefits of cementing the airline’s presence in various points around the country.  It is not clear whether the Akwa Ibom State Government is subsidizing  Arik’s flights (It is not uncommon in Nigeria for State Governments to buy blocks of seats on flights to their respective airports.   This, they argue, is a means to encourage airlines to develop routes and hence contribute to regional economic development).

Water cannon salute by Uyo Airport's fire brigade

After a long and turbulent project history, the new Akwa Ibom International Airport (AKIA) received its first scheduled flights on 2 December 2009 when Arik Air launched daily flights to Abuja and Lagos, both operated by the Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft.  Equipped with a CAT II landing facility, one of Africa’s longest runways (3600 M) and able to accommodate the new Airport A380 double-decker, the new Akwa Ibom International Airport (AKIA) is the primary tool devised by the state to ‘create hub of economic activities in and around the airport, and greatly enhance the air cargo transport needs of the regional market.’

Uyo's 18-hole Meridien golf course and hotel - Akwa Ibom hopes to transform Uyo into a regional tourism and commercial hub

The state is mainly referring initially to a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) center which is currently under construction and which it intends to operate under a PPP arrangement (Public-Private Partnership).  The facility, the first of its kind in Nigeria and able to service two Boeing 747 Jumbos simultaneously, is planning to provide A, B, C and D checks to airlines’ fleet of aircraft and is expected to be ready by September 2010.

What remains to be seen, however, is which private sector company operates the MRO facility.  Arik Air has already announced its intent to build a maintenance superhangar but its location remains unclear.  Also, it remains to be seen whether the new flights to AKIA will affect Arik’s traffic figures out of Calabar’s Margaret Ekpo International Airport, which is roughly 50 Kms away.  Meanwhile, Arik’s flight schedules to Uyo are well timed to connect passengers smoothly in Lagos and Abuja to onward destinations such as New York, Dakar and Johannesburg.

Uyo terminal and ramp bird's eye view

Check-in counters used by Arik Air

Arrival of the first commercial flight in Uyo, operated by Arik Air

Gas production is expected to provide a crucial engine for economic growth in the Akwa Ibom/Cross River region, and therefore Arik is likely to benefit as passenger numbers and cargo uplift relating to the Oil and Gas industry increase.



Filed under Network and Destinations

6 responses to “Arik Air Adds Uyo to Domestic Network

  1. Sam

    The last photo was taken the day the airport was inaugurated end of September 2009, and not on 2 Dec 2009 when the first commercial flights by Arik operated. Just a correction!

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  3. Here’s a follow-up on the temporary suspension of Arik Air flights to Uyo. It turns out Arik Air is indeed subsidized by the Akwa Ibom Government, whereby any vacant seats below 50% occupancy is (fully or partially) offset by the AI Government.

    A’Ibom Packages Air Services With Arik

    Posted by admin on Jan 7th, 2010 and filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

    In abid to ensure full utilization of facilities at the Ibom international airport, the state government has announced plans to sign a N500 million aviation services deal with Arik Air.

    The airport which has since commenced day time scheduled flights beginning November has recorded more than 3,000 in flight passengers.

    In a letter to the State House of Assembly, Governor Godswill Akpabio said the air travel agreement would cover the development of the new route between the state government and the airline.

    The governor, who urged the lawmakers to endorse the agreement, said N500 million has been set aside to guarantee fifty per cent seat capacity as well as additional N50 million for preparation and route development services which he said, had been kept in an escrow account with Spring Bank.

    The governor’s letter was read by the clerk of the Assembly on the floor of the House before the presentation of the 2010 budget proposal by the governor.

    Arik Air was the first airtime operator to land at the Akwa-Ibom international Airport during the inaugural flight which took place on September 23.

    Last month, the state government gave reasons why it has entered into an agreement with the airline, saying it was meant to overcome the challenge of competition from other nearby airports and ensure full utilization of the airport.

    According to the deputy governor, Patrick Ekpotu, soon after the airport was completed, the management of the airline which had long been in partnership with the state government for the development of the airport began to sing a different tune.

    Ekpotu said it was then that the state government decided to subsidize all flights operated by the airline to the airport.

    This according to him means that the state government will pay for vacant seats on every flight undertaken by the airline.

    The governor’s letter did not say how long the aviation services would cover and whether such agreement would be extended to other airline operator wishing to fly the Uyo-Abuja or Lagos Uyo routes.

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  6. Sari

    I need to go play a round of golf at the Meridien. I’ve heard so much about the place.

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