Arik Air, West and Central Africa’s largest carrier, today announced the further expansion of its regional African services with the introduction of scheduled flights between Lagos and three cities, namely Cotonou (Benin), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) and Bamako (Mali).

The new services will be launched on 11 October 2011 and operate twice weekly on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

The originating flight will depart MurtalaMuhammed International Airport, Lagos at 8:00pm (local time) and arrive Cotonou at 8:30 pm (local time). The flight will continue onto Ouagadougou, departing Cotonou at 9:00 pm (local time) and landing at Ouagadougou at 9:30 pm (local time). The flight will later depart Ouagadougou at 10:15 pm (local time) and terminate at Bamako at 11:40 pm (local time).

The inbound flight will depart Bamako at 00:10 am (local time next day) and arrive Ouagadougou 1:35 am (local time). The flight continues to Cotonou, leaving Ouagadougou at 2:20 am (local time) and arriving at Cotonou at 4:50 am (local time). The flight thereafter leaves Cotonou at 5:20 am (local time) and terminates in Lagos at 5:50 am (local time).

The Lagos-Cotonou-Ouagadougou-Bamako route will be served with a state-of-the-art Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft. The CRJ900 is configured to seat 10 passengers in the Business Class and 64 in Economy.

Arik Air’s Group Chief Executive, Dr. Michael Arumemi-Ikhide said of the new route:

“The commencement of services between Lagos and the cities of Cotonou, Ouagadougou and Bamako is significant because it marks the end to years of limited air links between Nigeria and the respective countries. The inauguration is coming at a time when the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is seeking closer relations among countries in the region. Arik Air’s new services will help Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali to foster even stronger economic ties and cement economic relations.

Arik Air is better positioned than any other West African airline to provide an extensive range of connections from Cotonou, Ouagadougou and Bamako via Lagos. From Lagos, Arik Air offers connections to 21 domestic destinations as well as daily non-stop services to London Heathrow and Johannesburg, and 3x weekly to New York JFK, a network that Arik Air guests in the West Coast can now access conveniently.”

The three new destinations in the West Coast will be adding to the airline’s existing five to Accra (Ghana), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Banjul (Gambia) and Dakar (Senegal) and Monrovia (Liberia), thus making Arik Air the dominant operator in the region.