Arik in talks for A340-500s as Kingfisher retrenches

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Nigeria's Arik Air is to take over part of Kingfisher Airlines' Airbus A340-500 order as the Indian carrier seeks to reduce capacity in an effort to cut costs and stem losses.

A source at Arik Air says the airline is in negotiation with Airbus for two new A340-500s: "We are buying the aircraft from Airbus, they are ex-Kingfisher," the source told Flight's Commercial Aviation Online.

Kingfisher placed orders in 2006 for five A340-500s along with five options, the first of which have been awaiting delivery in Toulouse. However, at Farnborough in July, chairman Vijay Mallya revealed that Kingfisher was planning to sell at least two of the ultra-long-range aircraft this year.

kingfisher a340-500 
 © Kingfisher

The Mumbai-based airline, which is in the process of integrating operations with low-cost carrier Deccan, is also returning some leased aircraft and seeking 300 voluntary redundancies.

"Upon rationalising the route network of the airline and having closely examined aircraft utilisation, we have identified surplus aircraft that are now redundant and are therefore being returned to lessors," says Kingfisher. It adds that the cost-reduction drive has taken on greater urgency because of "the ongoing turbulence faced by the aviation industry".

Arik Air has approval to serve London Heathrow and is expected to start operations this autumn. It is also cleared to start US services in April. The airline's expansion plan includes the acquisition of more than 50 new aircraft over the next 10-15 years. According to Flight's ACAS database, Arik Air has firm orders for 12 Boeing long-haul aircraft - five 777-300ERs and seven 787-9s, as well as commitments for four 747-8Is.