Arik Air has established a mini hub in Cotonou, the capital of Benin Republic – a 15 minutes flight from Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos in a bid to expand its operations to French speaking West and Central African destinations.
The airline plans to airlift businessmen and women who regularly travel through the West Coast, through Lagos and others thus bridging the gaps created long ago when air travelers from one West or Central African country had to travel to Europe to connect flights to another country in the sub-regions.
Arik’s Associate Vice President, Global Sales and Distribution, Trevor Henry said that in the last two years, there has been increasing demand to open direct air services between Nigeria and Benin to ease movement as land transportation has become increasingly difficult. He explained that besides taking passengers from Lagos to Cotonou, Arik also has the permit to fly passengers from Benin Republic to Doula, Cameroon which he said would go a long way in assisting the airline in its quest to grow its market share and connect to more destinations from Cotonou in the nearest possible time.
He explained, “A lot of people want to go into Cotonou from Lagos and vice versa by air and we had to give them what they want.” Concerning the new route, Lagos to Cotonou to Doula in Cameroon, he said, “We were the first to develop that route but left it over a year ago. But with more demand, we had to go back. So what we do now is that we do a daily service; we can take passengers from Nigeria to Benin Republic, and in Cotonou we can also fly out to Douala in Cameroon and do the same return trip Douala-Cotonou-Lagos by evening of the same day.
Henry added, “ We have created a network and now passengers can buy direct air tickets to London, South Africa and New York from any of these countries, Cameroon, Benin Republic, Togo, and Senegal, and we can fly them to these destinations out of Lagos as a hub.”
He said Arik Air was proud to assist Nigeria to economically fulfill its ambition of serving as a hub of travelers within the West African sub-region because passengers could now come in with Arik Air flights from any of its neighboring countries and then fly out overseas out of Nigeria as is done in Kenya, Ethiopia, Dubai, Qatar, and other European countries.
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This article was first published on 11th April 2014