Air travellers between Nigeria and the United States of America, now have a choice as Nigeria’s leading domestic carrier, Arik Air, has been given approval to commence direct commercial flights into the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Transport (DOT), in a letter to the airline, said the Nigerian flag carrier has satisfied all requirements and thus qualified to fly direct into any part of the U. S. The letter dated April 4, 2008 was signed by the Director, Office of International Aviation, Paul L. Gretch.
According to the approval letter from DOT, Arik Air has been found to be operationally and financially qualified to conduct its proposed operations, and is substantially owned and effectively controlled by citizens of Nigeria.
“We also note that the applicant is properly licensed by its homeland to perform the proposed services”, the letter reads noting that the basis of approval is the bilateral air service agreement between the two countries.
However, Arik Air will be expected to operate the scheduled commercial flight into the U.S. using only a wet leased aircraft from a duly authorized and properly supervised U.S. or foreign air carrier.
Arik Air had on October 29, 2007, filed an application with the U.S. DOT to engage in scheduled foreign air transportation between Lagos, Nigeria and specified U.S. points.
Some of the U.S. destinations Arik Air is expected to service are Houston, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
An elated Arik Air Managing Director, Mr. Michael McTighe said of the U.S. DOT approval: “We have patiently waited for this approval and it is another confirmation of our resolve to run a safe, reliable and efficient airline that will be internationally acclaimed”.
“Having established our airline as number one on the domestic route, it is now time to replicate that achievement on the international route”.
McTighe promised Nigerians living in the U.S. that Arik Air will be ready in December 2008 to fly them home for the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Arik Air in its short time of existence has won the Airline of The Year, Thisday Award 2008.
The airline currently services 24 domestic routes from 15 airports and one regional route and has been designated the national carrier of Republic of Niger.
Arik Air is a wholly owned Nigerian airline with a commitment to the people of Nigeria to deliver new standards in aviation. The airline commenced commercial operation on October 30, 2006 with three brand new Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft, thus becoming the first airline to fly new aircraft in Nigeria for over 20 years.