Arik seeks A330s and considers A380s instead of 747-8s

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Rapidly-expanding Nigerian carrier Arik Air is looking to lease two Airbus A330s and is also evaluating Airbus A380s as an alternative to the four 747-8s to which it has tentatively committed.

Arik Air has a number of aircraft on order, including 17 Boeing 737s, five 777-300ERs, seven 787-9s, an Airbus A340-500, three Bombardier CRJ900ERs and two Bombardier Q400s.

Speaking to ATI in London, Arik Air managing director Michael Arumemi-Ikhide said delivery delays have caused Arik to seek interim lift to fulfil its rapid growth strategy: "On that basis we took the [three ex-Kingfisher] A340s and we are now in discussions over the wet- or dry-lease of some A330s."

He explains that Arik is seeking two A330s, with options on a third, for delivery by the end of 2009 or the first quarter of 2010. The airline is in talks with a number of unidentified lessors over the deal.

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 © Airbus

Last year Arik signed a letter of intent to take four Boeing 747-8s with options on a fifth, but Arumemi-Ikhide says: "We are still examining the [747-8's] feasibility, whether it is the best aircraft for us on our Nigerian routes. We are also in discussions with Airbus over their A380 for a suitable fit on our long routes.

"They are both serious contenders. The 747 hasn't been helped by delays to the 787 programme. The fact that the 787 technology has issues doesn't help, although we are confident that it will be a very successful aircraft. We have to consider [the A380] as a possible game-changing aircraft."

Should Arik opt for the A380 instead of the 747-8, it will impact on the number of aircraft under evaluation, says Arumemi-Ikhide. "It will change the calculations dimensions entirely, so it could be different from four."

Arik's first 777 was due to arrive during the first quarter of 2011, but it has been delayed until the second quarter. Arumemi-Ikhide says the airline will make a powerplant selection by the beginning of 2010. Arik's 787s have also been significantly delayed, from 2013 until 2016.

"It has impacted the roll-out of our programme," says Arumemi-Ikhide. "The 777s were meant to phase with the 787s. We were hoping to exit the A340s earlier, but on the line they are performing extremely well, bridging the gap for the 787. They will be with us for quite some time, beyond the seven-year period."