Arik Air's order for two Boeing 747-8 Intercontinentals is the latest step in the Nigerian carrier's on-off relationship with the newest incarnation of the iconic airliner.

The order, worth $635 million at list prices, was disclosed yesterday. It had previously appeared in Boeing's order totals as an unidentified customer dating from 15 June.

Arik's interest in the 747-8I goes back to May 2008 when it signed a letter of intent for three of the type. This commitment was firmed up at the Farnborough air show in July that year with the order increased to four aircraft with one option.

However, as programme delays mounted the carrier brought in capacity from elsewhere - notably Airbus A340-500s - and began to talk about the possibility of ordering A380s instead of the revamped 747. Eventually talk of the order for the 747-8Is was dropped.

For Boeing, while not a huge shot in the arm for the programme - which has orders for 27 aircraft from 3 carriers (excluding VIP variants) - the order at least represents progress after the rows that have dogged the 747-8 Freighter in recent weeks.

Arik has an order backlog of eight 737-800s and seven 787-9s.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news