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*Open Letter To Owner(s) of Arik
Everybody who knows the state of commercial airline business in Nigeria before the advent of ARIK Air Ltd would only but thank the owner, Mr. Arumeni Ikhide for introducing what can rightly be described as an innovation in air transport in Nigeria. Today, one can enter domestic flights in Nigeria with confidence that he is entering a brand new plane. I understand the company does not also joke with maintenance and that it is generally passionate about safety.
But somebody needs to tell him that air transport business is more of a service industry. At the heart of the operations is the quality of service, otherwise, with all the new planes, it will be a white sepulchre that is externally attractive but rotten inside. Going by the quality of services Arik offers, I am afraid that is what it is turning into. The Managers of that company need to act urgently. People are complaining of lack of good services by the company. Before you know it, the pent-up resentment will have great effect on the company. At that time, it will be too late!
I am a frequent flyer of Arik. At each time the quality of service keeps deteriorating. One is bound to witness greatest lack of love for the company by those that work for it. Clearly they are not interested in its growth and development. This is bad. Part of the doctrine of dignity of labour is that one must love any work he does through which he eats and keeps the body moving. If you are a road sweeper, and you make daily living through that, you are expected to love the job.
On the 4th of April, 2012, I and some friends were supposed to travel by Arik to Lagos for the Service of Songs for the wife of the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank plc. The flight was to take-off at 4:50 pm. We had earlier given money to somebody to purchase the tickets for us. He did at NICON Hilton Hotel at Abuja. The first mischief was that they told him they did not have seat in their Business Class, because one of us wanted to travel on that class. He bought economy class for all of us.
The guy was at the airport two hours before departure time only to be told half way that the counter had closed. He was almost stranded. We arrived at the Airport at exactly 3:35 pm. We thought all we needed was to collect our boarding passes, go into the departure hall and relax over some drinks. Behold, the guy had not checked us in. In fact, he told us how they refused to attend to then in preference to some passengers he suspected must have greased their palms. ( Continues below….. )
Photo Above: A landing Arik Plane
My friends AND I was exasperated at how things had fallen apart in the country. People complain of what our leader do, yet they do worst in their little positions. At last we decided to go beyond the counter and meet a higher, understanding officer. We were directed to one Mr. Ogaji Dabim, introduced as the Duty Manager. Tactically, I asked him when boarding for that plane was supposed to end, he said at 3:10. I pointed it out to him that it was clearly written that boarding stops 30 minutes before departure and should have ended at 4:20 pm. He could not lie about this one because we ourselves were at the Airport at exactly 3:45. When I made it clear to the guy that I will tell this story to the whole world, he became panicky. One of us who was told at the point of purchase of ticket that there was no business class was upgraded at the airport, after he paid N13,000. This was how he issued boarding passes to all of us, but before we finished all this, we missed the flight and did not travel again.
This was not the first time I witnessed such treatment from Arik. The pathetic thing about this is that when one had succeeded in the past, he would find out that many empty seats still remained in the plane.
What would easily be deduced for events at ARIK is that they have strong corrupt syndicate that specialises in selling half of the seats for flights only to say that the flight is fully booked. What they now do is to collect extra money from the back from people for their pockets and sell those tickets to them. At one occasion when I was desperate to travel, I had to pat extra N5,000 naira to make the trip. They often end up not selling everything that once one entered the plane, one would be surprised at many empty seats in a supposedly fully booked flight.
The foregoing is not good for the owner of ARIK. We know how capital intensive airline business is. By introducing ARIK, the owner had done us good, He is providing for us what Nigerian Airways could not do. It will be bad if, due to poor management, he allows those who cannot buy plane tires to ruin his business.
Mr. Charles Ugonna, Abuja
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