Arik Air is in talks with Bombardier and Lufthansa Technik to jointly establish a maintenance facility to serve the West African market.
The airline's chief executive Michael Arumemi-Ikhide says there is a chronic lack of MRO bases in West Africa, forcing airlines to use facilities in eastern and southern Africa or Europe. He sees "opportunities" to develop a business dedicated to the region: "On a technical issue, maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities... West Africa has none. This is a real cost burden for any airline operating in that region, as you have to deploy aircraft to international long-haul bases. So we see an opportunity there [for] a West Africa MRO base that will help us and give us third-party opportunities."
He adds: "In terms of the structure, discussions are in train with the other parties, but the key thing is about knowledge sharing. That's the principal issue. The parties need to develop this expertise. That’s where we would be leaning on them in terms of going about setting it up and training our local staff to support and man these facilities going forward."
The MRO facility would, says Arumemi-Ikhide, be located at its Lagos base, where Lufthansa Technik already has an operation maintaining a number of Arik’s short-haul aircraft. That contract will be renewed in the near future, he says.