Arik Air Launches Flights to Democratic Republic of Congo

Nigerian carrier Arik Air last week inaugurated flights between Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and N'djili International Airport in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), its third destination in Central Africa following the introduction of flights to Luanda, Angola in 2011 and Douala, Cameroon in August this year.

The new route, launched on December 5, 2012, is being offered via Douala on a twice weekly frequency, using a Boeing 737-700 fitted with 12 Business Class and 112 Economy seats. Its introduction will support a growth in capacity between Lagos and Douala with five weekly flights now available on this route, up from three.

“Kinshasa is our 12th African destination and this underscores the airline’s commitment to linking the African markets for proper integration of the continent,” said Chris Ndulue, Managing Director and Executive Vice President, Arik Air. “Kinshasa is the second largest city in sub-Saharan Africa and the third largest in the whole continent after Lagos and Cairo. Thus, it is strategically important to link Lagos with Kinshasa.”

Arik Air will be the only Nigerian carrier currently offering flights into the DRC, and its route launch marks the resumption of flights between Lagos and Kinshasa, a link previously served directly by ASKY Airlines in 2010 and 2011 - as part of a wider flight that also served Lome and Libreville. Before then, Hewa Bora Airways offered regular flights on the Douala – Lagos – Kinshasa – Brazzaville route during 2007 and 2008; while between March 2004 and December 2006, Air Guinee Express served the Lagos – Kinshasa market using a Boeing 737.

The operations of Air Guinee Express on the route during 2005 and 2006 helped boost estimated O&D passenger demand to 9,300 and 7,000 travellers during the two years. Since then demand has declined on an annual basis to approximately 2,300 O&D passengers in 2010, although the market did rebound slightly last year with estimated O&D demand up to 3,000 passengers.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…