Airline Staff From Arik Air Arrested In Lagos On Bribery Charges

Officials have arrested an employee of Nigerian airline Arik Air for attempting to extort passengers at Lagos International Airport. Authorities had launched an investigation as a result of online videos where travelers claim to have been scammed for money upon arrival at the airport, resulting in yesterday’s arrest.

Arik Air 737
An Arik Air employee was caught at Lagos Airport trying to earn some extra cash at the expense of passengers. Photo: John Taggart via Wikimedia Commons

‘Bad eggs’ in the airport

There was some drama in Lagos on Tuesday as officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) apprehended a member of staff from Arik Air on the grounds of extortion. Apparently, the female employee solicited a bribe from a passenger at the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International, Lagos, Nigeria.

“The On Duty Card of the erring staff has been withdrawn immediately, and she has been handed over to the relevant security agency for appropriate action in order to serve as a deterrent to other bad eggs in the airport,” the FAAN said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Arik Air told Today that the management would conduct its own investigation while supporting and cooperating with federal procedures.

The arrest came as a result of surveillance work by the FAAN prompted by ’embarrassing videos’ where travelers complained about being subject to extortion while at the airport. Reportedly, staff was using COVID-related entry regulations to part arriving passengers with their money.

Curbing the menace

A meeting subsequently took place between the FAAN, Presidential Advisers, Airport Managers, and Airport Chiefs of Security. It was decided that any airport official caught soliciting bribes would permanently be denied work at the airport again. Officials would also be required to wear conspicuous nametags while on duty.

“Recent embarrassing online videos where passengers complained of acts of extortion at the nation’s airport had necessitated the need to devise multi-level strategies to curb the menace,” the FAAN’s General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Henrietta Yakubu, told CMA Trends on Wednesday.

Lagos Airport
The FAAN began conducting an investigation after videos emerged online, accusing airport staff of soliciting bribes. Photo: PESP via Wikimedia Commons

Arik Air

Arik Air operates out of two hubs – Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja. Currently, the airline only operates narrowbody and regional aircraft with a fleet consisting of six Boeing 737-700s, four 737-800s, six Bombardier CRJ series jets, and three Dash-8 turboprops.

Arik Air’s fleet has an average age of 13.6 years. However, the airline has orders for eight Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. Not only that, but it intends to return to widebody operations with no less than nine 787-9 Dreamliners. Part of the Dreamliner order was converted from two 747-8 aircraft, of which Arik Air was to be the final customer. 

Airbus A340 Arik Air
Arik Air currently only operates narrowbodies and regional jets after waving goodbye to its A330s and A340s a few years ago. Photo: Pedro Aragão via Wikimedia Commons

Now only operating medium- and short-haul routes across Africa, Arik Air previously used a fleet of three Airbus A330s and two A340s (one wet-leased from Hi-Fly) to serve destinations such as London Heathrow, New York JFK, and Dubai. The arrival of a new Dreamliner fleet would mean the airline could return to intercontinental destinations – hopefully without any added price tags.

Have you ever traveled with Arik Air or through Lagos Aiport? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.