Arik Air, Nigeria's leading commercial airline, has announced plans to commence services between Banjul, Dakar, Freetown and Lagos, ending years of limited air travel services between these four cities.
According to a press release from the airline, the inaugural flight will take place on Wednesday, June 3, 2009 and the new service will operate four times a week - Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
According to Arik Air's General Manager, Sales and Marketing, Suraj Sundaram, the commencement of services from Banjul by the airline will improve accessibility, and help the country to develop stronger economic ties and trade relations with its West African neighbours and with Nigeria.
According to the airline, "up until now, the limited choice of direct flights between Gambia and other West African cities specifically has made airfares some of the highest in West Africa." Arik Air's arrival on the market is expected to stimulate further travel, ease movement of travelers and goods and provide affordable air travel to communities in the Mano River region.
Michael McTighe, Arik Air's Managing Director promised that the airline would offer world-class service on the new routes. "We will not compromise on safety and will go the extra mile to ensure the satisfaction of our increasing customer base. This is a new dawn for air transportation on Africa's west coast," McTighe said.
Banjul is the hub of economic activities in The Gambia and it is where the headquarters of the country's peanut and fishing industries are located; two of Gambia's important products. It is also the location of markets, where various crafts and jewelry are sold and of the harbour, home to many of the nation's fishing fleet.
A state-of-the-art Boeing 737-700 aircraft with 124 passengers capacity; 12 business class and 112 economy seats, will be used on the new services. This aircraft is one of the two latest Boeing 737-700 delivered to Arik Air in March 2009.
Guests on this new service will have the opportunity of connecting to the airline's extensive domestic network covering 16 destinations in Nigeria.
Arik Air is Nigeria's leading commercial airline. It currently operates a fleet of 27 state-of-the art regional, medium haul and long haul aircraft. The airline serves 19 airports across Nigeria and also Accra (Ghana), Cotonou (Benin), Niamey (Niger) and London Heathrow (UK).
The airline currently operates a combined total of 120 daily flights from its hubs in Lagos and Abuja, and new daily non-stop flights will begin between Lagos and Johannesburg on 1st June 2009. Arik Air employs a workforce of 1,400.