The coast is now clear for Nigeria’s leading domestic carrier, Arik Air to begin direct flights from Lagos to London with the granting of slots to the airline to operate into Heathrow Airport in the heart of London.
The good news was broken at the weekend by the chairman of Arik Air, Sir Joseph Arumemi-Johnson at a general meeting with the staff and management of the airline held at the Arik Aviation Centre, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.
According to Sir Arumemi-Johnson, the British aviation authorities have finally granted the Nigerian flag carrier the much sort after slot at the Heathrow Airport and the direct flight will commence in November this year.
“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 elated chairman told the gathering.
It will be recalled that discussions had been going on between Nigeria and the U.K. government on the need to allow the Nigerian carriers that have been designated on the Lagos-London route, to fly into Heathrow instead of Gatwick or Stanstead Airports.
In preparation for its first international flight to London, the airline will soon take delivery of three brand new Airbus A340-500 aircraft which will start arriving this October.
The first two of wide bodied aircraft are due in Nigeria in October while the third will come in December.
“We are already discussing the configuration of the aircraft with Airbus. We expect to have 30 first class, premium class and 230 economy seat configuration”, Sir Arumemi-Johnson said.
To cement the business relationship between Arik Air and the France-based aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, it is expected that the latest plane in its service, A380, will be coming to Nigeria on a demonstration flight especially for Arik Air when the A340-500 are being delivered.
An Airbus team which was made up of David Dufrenois, Vice President Sales, North and West Africa; and John Parkinson, Area Sales Director, Customer Affairs was at Arik Air on October 10, 2007, to do a presentation on the A350 XWB and A380 aircraft.
The presentation by the Airbus team dealt on the Airbus family, the capabilities and basic advantages of the aircraft over its competitors.