n the past three weeks, leading Nigerian carrier Arik Air has been in the news for flight delays, poor maintenance culture and unknowingly having a dead man aboard. How worse can it get from here?
VENTURES AFRICA – Nigeria’s local air carriers have a reputation for excelling in customer disservice and PR gaffes, but Arik Air—once considered the better of the lot—has in the past three weeks, managed to surpass all of its rivals in coveting negative media attention.
Two weeks ago, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation lambasted the airline in a series of tweets, after he was delayed for four hours for a flight that was just an hour long. Flight delays and cancellations are not unusual for Nigerian airlines, but Arik Air had the unfortunate lot of delaying the chief of the ministry that oversees its operations. Uncharacteristic of Nigerians in authority, the minister did not ‘show himself.’ Instead, he sat out the delay and used Twitter to broadcast the airline’s inefficiencies.
Inspired by the minister’s tweets, the Nigerian media, particularly online blogs, took their turns on Arik, while
customers chipped in with their litany of bad experiences on the airline. Just when the storm seemed to be calming down, a picture emerged and dragged the airline back to the negative limelight.
Popular Nigerian blogger Linda Ikeji, on March 11, posted a picture of an Arik Aircraft with a torn seat. She wrote thus; “According to twitter user @sasalam, he paid more than N20k today for seat 14F on #ArikAir W3 721. He got to the seat and voila! – No upholstery, just bare metal. He refused it and told the air hostess who just shrugged like it was something normal. Arik Air, what is this?’
However, that picture was quickly dwarfed by what would come next—a dead man in the Stowaway of an Arik plane.According to a national daily, the Sun, Arik Air may have flown the dead man on a round trip from Lagos to New York last weekend. The decomposing body, which was found by Arik Air engineers who were checking the Airbus A345-500 aircraft in preparation for a flight, raised serious questions on the attention the airline pays to its aircrafts.
The events of these past three weeks are the first examples of Arik’s problem with paying attention to customers oer their machines. Last year, a popular Nigerian musician, Banky W, filmed a chaotic scene of passengers gasping for air in an Arik flight headed to New York. The Aircraft’s Air Conditioning had failed to come on, leaving the passengers to create hand fans out books and magazines.