By: GlobalFlyer (Regular contributor)
After some unexplained delays, Arik Air has finally taken delivery of two of four ordered, Canadian-built Bombardier Dash 8-Q400s, seating 72 passengers in a two-class layout. Following their certification by regulatory authorities (and “proving flights” by the NCAA), the aircraft have entered commercial service on several routes including Lagos-Kaduna/Benin/Ilorin.
Passengers will notice these aircraft to be much more comfortable than other turboprops flown by Arik (Dash 8-300’s and Fokker 50’s wet-leased and operated by Denim Air of Holland on behalf of Arik). The –Q400 will cut-short flight times as it is considerably faster at cruise altitude (670 Km/hr or 360 Kt), reduce cabin noise to jet-like conditions (Boeing 737 levels) and reduce the effects of turbulence, among others. In other words, passengers will feel as if they were flying a jet airliner.
Arik is likely to profit immensely from these aircraft, as they are owned and operated by Arik Air flight and cabin crew, saving on expensive wet-leasing arrangements with Denim Air. Furthermore, the Dash 8-400 has a very low operating cost per seat in the regional aircraft market particularly on short routes of 400 nautical miles or less. This means Arik Air is probably able to break-even on most of its Nigerian routes with fewer than 36 passengers onboard the 72-seater aircraft.
I would think that these aircraft are also well-positioned to fly profitably on new international, short-haul routes (Lagos-Malabo/Lome/Yaounde/Kumasi/Sao Tome), serving the airline’s growth plans. Arik already expressed its intent to serve some of these markets.
I am curious to know why the order for this type is limited to four (4) air frames. Denim Air operates 3 Fokker 50s and 3 Dash 8-300s for Arik and I would assume these will eventually be returned to the lessor and replaced with Arik Air metal. If I factor in the Denim Air replacements and a couple of additional Dash 8-Q400s for international routes, this would add up to a requirement of 12 Dash 8-Q400s, without taking growth forecasts into account! Only Arik Air management can answer this.
Basic Tech Specifications of the Dash-8-400
Max. cruise speed: 667 km/hr
Range: 2522 km
Length: 32.8 m
Height (to top of horizontal tail): 8.3 m
Fuselage diameter: 2.69 m
Cabin length: 18.8m
Max. takeoff weight: 29,260 kg
Engine type: 2 PW150A