FI2008: Arik Air set to use A340-500s to fill interim needs

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Nigerian carrier Arik Air appears set to bring in three Airbus A340-500s to give it capacity to launch flights from Lagos to London Heathrow this autumn.

Arik currently operates regional aircraft and Boeing 737s on domestic and regional routes in Africa and is preparing to launch international services both to Europe and USA.

In a statement Arik chairman Sir Joseph Arumeni-Johnson said: “I am happy to announce to you that we have been granted four slots at Heathrow Airport but we are still pushing for more so that we can fly to London every day of the week.”

The Arik Air statement also says the airline is preparing to take three new Airbus A340-500s to operate on the route, helping to fill its interim capacity requirements. Arik Air has a number of Boeing long-haul aircraft on order, but its five Boeing 777s will be the earliest to enter the fleet in 2011. It says the A340s would arrive in October and December.

But speaking during a media briefing at the Farnborough air show yesterday, to confirm its commitments for more Boeing 737s and 747-8 Intercontinentals, Arumeni-Johnson did not confirm a deal had yet been done. “We are talking to anyone that can give us interim lift,” he said.

Granting of Heathrow slots moves Arik a step closer to launching flights between Lagos and Heathrow. “In October-November we should start flying to London and by January-February we should be going to America,” he says.

The carrier secured US approval to operate flights in April this year and Arumeni-Johnson says it plans to serve New York and Houston in the USA.