Monday, July 1, 2013

► NIGERIA: Arik Air to take delivery of two A330s this month; plans daily JFK flights from October.

Arik AirNigeria's largest carrier, Arik Air (W3), is poised to spread its wings further both regionally and internationally with plans to at long last, take delivery of two A330-200s on lease from Irish aviation specialists, Pembroke Group, later in the month.

Arik Air 747-8 Rendering
Arik Air 747-8 Rendering (Boeing)
In an interview at Arik Air's headquarters in Lagos,  Mr Joseph Arumemi Ikhide-Johnson, the company's founder and chairman, said his airline wants to match the quality and calibre of service offered by US and European carriers. He said that later in the month, the two A330-200s, (MCN 891| 5N-JIC) and (MCN 927 | 5N-JID), would be delivered to augment their pans to increase their New York frequencies from 3x weekly, to daily from October 2013 on. The arrival of the A330s is expected to bolster Arik's plans of launching its first South American flights to Brazil before August, though according to Nigerian Deputy High Commissioner to Brazil, Mr Mohammed Sulaiman, that date is likely to be pushed back to later this year.

While the jets are four years old, Mr Ikhide-Johnson said the game plan was to use them for eight years and then swap them for new Airbus A350s.  

Arik also has seven 787-9s, two 747-8s and eight 737-800s on order from Boeing.

In reference to the airline's regional expansion plans, Mr Ikhide-Johnson said while Arik had attempted to expand into Cote d'Ivoire (Abidjan) and Togo (Lomé), it had encountered stiff resistance from authorities there who had both denied it rights (Editor's note: reference this article regarding Ghana's gripes about Nigeria's lack of accessibility: ► NIGERIA: Ghana's Fly540 supposedly granted rights to serve Nigeria; Antrak Air to follow.). As such, using the new 737-800s, Arik plans to extend its reach into Egypt and North Africa and then to East Africa with added frequencies to South Africa. With a new BASA with Israel also in the process of being finalized, Arik intends to begin Tel Aviv flights, he said.