Arik Air said it supports the Cabotage Bill, otherwise called the Fly Nigeria Bill, being packaged by some industry watchers because it will create an opportunity for the indigenous airlines to grow.
Arik Air Managing Director, Mr. Chris Ndulue, said some developed countries of the world have implemented such Act despite the fact that they have the best airlines in the world, adding that such Act would help to promote the growth as well as protect the indigenous airlines.
Speaking to aviation correspondents in Lagos at the weekend, at the company’s corporate office in Lagos, Ndulue called on the National Assembly to give the Act the required attention, stressing that its implementation apart from protecting indigenous airlines, would also help the country and the airlines to conserve foreign exchange as well as create employment for the population.
He said the airline was prepared to up its services to meet every challenge even as the service upgrade is a continuous thing for any airline.
“We are prepared in terms of the capacity. In terms of service level, we are ready to up our service level. We are training staff and retraining them. We are young and we are growing”, said Ndulue.
Ndulue was speaking based on a statement by Olisa Agbakoba, who, explained that his firm was working on a bill that would use Arik Air, Air Nigeria and First Nation Airways as pilot carriers for the project that would mandate legislation and legal instrument to be put in place to ensure that key government officials only fly Nigerian carriers.
Agbakoba, who explained that his firm was seeking the cooperation of aviation stakeholders, airlines, the National Assembly as well as the Federal Ministry of Aviation to see to the quick passage of the Cabotage Act, within the next two to four months, to enable Nigerian carriers tap into the huge market running into billions of dollars.
On the airline’s growing network, the managing director said that Arik Air would grow its international operations gradually to make it sustainable. He said, “We have a lot of capacity that Nigerians have not exhausted”, even as he said the airline plans to change the Boeing 737-800 it uses on the Abuja to London route into a bigger aircraft.
He also spoke on the interlining arrangement among indigenous airlines. According to him, the airlines still have to work out some issues like a clearing house, where issues pertaining to the reconciliation of transactions would be handled. He said that such factors will ensure there is transparency in its operations as required.