Stakeholders Link Arik’s Penchant For Int’l Benchmarks To Flight Suspension | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Stakeholders Link Arik’s Penchant For Int’l Benchmarks To Flight Suspension

Posted: May 8, 2015 at 12:07 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Abel Orukpe –  Correspondent, Lagos


Barely five days after Arik Air, one of the largest domestic airlines in the country suspended flight operations to Dubai, reactions have continued to pour in as to why the only Nigerian airline operating flights to this destination withdrew.

While the Managing Director of the airline, Mr. Chris Ndulue had explained that the airline took a business decision to suspend Dubai operation due to some issues that were not interest of the airline

He also explained that one of the reasons why the airline suspended its operations was due to United Arab Emirates (UAE) drastic change in visa policy.

UAE had released a new visa rules which stipulates that Nigerian single ladies and men travelling alone should be 40 years old and above, married women travelling with children should be above 40 years old, and that ladies and men who are below 40 years old will be allowed to travel provided they are accompanied by someone, who is above 40 and bears the same surname with them

It also provided that all visa applications are subject to approval and that once it is applied for, full charges are applicable.

The policy added that to clear a file from the system, a cancellation charge of AED 110 will be applicable should a request be rejected by the immigration department.

Other countries affected by the new policy includes  Moroccans, Algerians, Libyans, Mauritanians and Tunisians nationality with 40 years as  minimum age requirement to apply for a visa.

However, for other nationalities, to apply for visa, the policy put the minimum age requirement for men at 21 and 23 for women.

This policy, Ndulue said has drastically reduced the traffic volume on the route.

On the contrary, stakeholders in the aviation industry have attributed Arik Air’s penchant for bench marking foreign airline fares and baggage limitation also affected the airline.

Speaking to Daily Independent exclusively, an aviation analyst, Mr. Olumide Ohunayo posited that though the new visa policy has reduced the number of young men and women that would have constitute Arik’s passenger traffic, the airline’s penchant for using international airlines to bench mark its operations also contributed to the suspension.

According to him,” The new visa policy of the UAE has reduced the number of young and new travellers that would have given Arik a little leverage. Also Arik penchant of bench marking foreign airline fares and baggage limitation may have affected them”.

He called on the Federal Government to address the problems by pursuing Nigeria’s policy towards fare hikes and also increase the Nigerian content in ownership.

Arik Air formal announcement of withdrawing from Dubai route, he said is another sad commentary from Nigerian flag carrier that was opened and developed with tax payers’ money through the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL).

He posited that it was thereafter the gulf carriers such as Emirate, Qatar and Etihad and other African carriers using the 5th and 6th freedom joined the fray.

He lamented that Arik will be the third Nigerian carriers designated on that route that have all pulled out, adding that Nigeria should critically reappraise the Nigerian situation and participation if we want to develop this industry.

On his part, the Assistant General-Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye, said that presently Arik Air is in a serious economic trouble, adding that if in the next two months the airline does not get intervention from the Federal Government it may go down.