ByÂ Kenneth Ehigiator
Arik Air has pledged toÂ Â continue to invest in training and development of its staff as a corporate priority, with a view to enhancing. safety of its flights
Managing Director of the airline, Mr. Mike McTighe, who said this in a statement issued in Lagos last weekend, said the attachment the airline places on human capital development informed the scholarship it granted last year for training of pilots and aircraft engineers at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria.
â€œAs a growing business, we engage in extensive training of personnel to be able to cope with our expanding operations. In the past three weeks alone we have opened services to five new markets: Johannesburg (South Africa), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Banjul (Gambia), Dakar (Senegal) and Katsina here in Nigeria.
â€œThe importance of the local Nigerian human factor in our operations cannot be overlooked as we have to provide support for the aggressive route development programme of the airline, more so when we already operate 120 daily flights from our two hubs in Lagos and Abuja.
â€œThe vast majority of our employees are Nigerian and they play a critical role in the growth of the airline.â€ â€œAs we strive to remain Nigeriaâ€™s airline industry leader, we remain committed to supporting our staff in their job roles so they can meet team goals and the objectives of Arik Air,â€ McTighe said.
McTighe, who noted that the airlineâ€™s staff strength currently stood at 1,436 spread over 12 departments in its head office in Lagos and in 17 locations across Nigeria, said Arik Air maintains personnel in six other countries in West Africa, the UK and in South Africa.
According to him, Nigerian locals account for approximately 90 percent of the airlineâ€™s total workforce, including pilots, engineers, flight dispatchers and cabin crew.
He said the airline has trained all of them to meet international industry standards, stressing that Arik Air would not in equipping its personnel through adequate training.
Speaking in a similar vein, Arik Airâ€™s Human Resources Manager, Mr. Monsur Salam, â€œthe management team fully supports the training and development of staff by providing resources such as finance, equipment, time and opportunities to ensure they have the right skills and knowledge to carry out their roles.â€
He said the airline has invested heavily in the professional training of local Nigerian staff at external institutions and learning centres.
To date, he added, 25 employees have benefitted from a Boeing Corporation Airline Planning Program, six underwent Canadaâ€™s Bombardier Management Program and six pilots were sponsored on Air Traffic Pilots License training in the US. Another 16 staff, 10 engineers and six flight dispatchers, attended further specialized courses.At the inception of its operations in 2006, Arik Air instituted a scholarship program aimed at training Nigerian graduates to become pilots, resulting in an initial investment by the airline of N16 million.
â€œAt the moment we employ 53 Nigerian pilots and the number is growing constantly.Â All pilots are trained with the best international training partners in the industry, including Oxford Aviation, Alteon Boeing and Flight Safety.