Arik Air has reinforced its position as West and Central Africa’s prominent commercial carrier by expanding its reach to the Middle East, will become the first Nigerian airline to offer a scheduled passenger service between Abuja and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The new route will launch from July 28, 2014 and will originate at end its journey with a domestic connection from Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. It will be flown on a five times weekly basis using a two-class Airbus A330-200 configured with 30 Premier Business Class seats and 187 Economy Class seats.
The new route will represent the return of the independent Nigerian carrier to the UAE market after a short-lived Lagos – Abu Dhabi service which operated between December 2011 and May 2012 and will see it launch flights just days before Emirates Airline introduces its own daily linked daily linked service from Dubai to Abuja and Kano from August 1, 2014.
Abuja, located in the centre of the country, is a planned city built largely during the 1980s which replaced Lagos as Nigeria’s capital in 1991. It is the seat of the Federal Government and home to most of Nigeria’s institutions, including the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation but remains a secondary gateway to the country behind Lagos.
Abuja’s Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, named after Nigeria's first President, is currently only directly linked to Frankfurt (Lufthansa), London (British Airways) and Paris (Air France) although in the last ten years there were also connections to Amsterdam, Jeddah, Medinah, New York and Dubai, the latter linked on a scheduled charter basis every week by Kabo Air between August 2009 and August 2013 using a Boeing 767-300ER.
“This is another exciting moment for us all at Arik Air, not only launching a new international destination, but becoming the first airline to link the capital Abuja to Dubai. The importance of Dubai as the Middle East’s commercial capital also makes it imperative for Arik Air to connect the city with Lagos which is a Nigeria’s commercial capital,” said Dr Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, global chief executive officer, Arik Air.