Sunday, February 20, 2011

Arik Air all set for expanding flights to West African connections!

Nigerian carrier Arik Air is set for a huge expansion of West African regional routes connecting into its hub at Lagos next month.
The carrier has been operating a daily Heathrow-Lagos service since 2008 and started regional West African flights to Ghana the same year.
It now serves six West African destinations outside Nigeria, but from the end of March that is set to more than double as up to new regional routes could be added.
The West Africa destinations under consideration are Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, Malabo in Equitorial Guinea, Kinshasa in Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, Libreville in Gabon, Douala in Cameroon, Bamako in Mali, Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Conakry in Guinea and Luanda in Angola.

Luanda is the only destination served by a direct flight from the UK and Arik Air will offer an alternative to transferring via Paris, Amsterdam or Brussels for the others.

UK sales manager Simon Cook said business travellers would be the key target market as many of the destinations were in countries were oil and other industries were developing. However there could also be a significant friends and relatives market.

Arik Air operates the Heathrow-Lagos route with a A340-500 including a Business First cabin with 36 lie-flat seats as well as a bar and lounge area. It claims the long-haul service is comparable or better to BA or Virgin Atlantic. The domestic flights will use 737-800s.

Cook said the airline still had to increase awareness in the UK market but passengers numbers on the Heathrow-Lagos route were rising as customers saw the product and realised Arik Air was using more modern aircraft than competitors on the route.

Arik Air is also looking at adding a Lagos-Houston route as well as services to Istanbul and Jeddah from its other hub in Abuja.