By Kenneth Ehigiator
Arik Air has concluded plans to commence flight operations to New York, beginning November 29, 2009.The new route will be Arik Airâ€™s third international service outside of the West Africa region, following the commencement of daily flights to London Heathrow in December 2008 and to Johannesburg, South Africa, in June 2009.
The new Lagos â€” New York (JFK) service will operate three times a week with outbound flights departing Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, while inbound flights will depart New Yorkâ€™s John F. Kennedy International Airport (Terminal 4) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Announcing the new international service, Arik Airâ€™s Managing Director, Mr Jason Holt said:â€œArik Airâ€™s new non-stop flights between Lagos and New York will be the airlineâ€™s first transatlantic service. They will also be the first direct flights between Nigeria and the United States to be operated by a Nigerian airline in the last decade. This is of great historical significance for Nigeria and a source of great pride for Arik Air.â€
The airlineâ€™s Chief Commercial Officer, Mr Suraj Sundaram elaborated:Â Â â€œThe inauguration of Arik Airâ€™s non-stop services between Lagos and New York will meet the needs of businesses in Nigeriaâ€™s commercial hub, Lagos, who are actively seeking air links with New York, the most important commercial centre in the worldâ€™s largest economy.
As the first Nigerian airline in over a decade to connect the two countriesâ€™ respective financial centres, Arik Air is extremely proud to take the lead in fulfilling this strategic role. The benefits to guests of Arik Airâ€™s new non_stop services are many and two of the most important centre on the opportunity to save travel time and reduce costs. By flying with Arik Air direct to New York, guests will no longer need to incur the cost of transit visa fees and other ticket taxes associated with flying via Europe. They will also be able to save a considerable amount of time on this non_stop service, equivalent to almost two full business days over the course of a return trip via Europe.â€
Arik Air has scheduled its flights conveniently for guests travelling from both ends of the new route. Flights from Lagos on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday will depart Lagos at 11.20pm (local time) and arrive New York JFK (Terminal 4) at 5.50am (local time) the following morning. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Arik Airâ€™s flights will depart New York JFK at 10.00pm (local time) and arrive Lagos at 2.40pm (local time) the next afternoon.
Mr Sundaram added that Arik Airâ€™s Lagos timings would provide the airlineâ€™s guests with the option to connect to and from Nigerian domestic as well as Regional African points.
â€œFrom Lagos, Arik Air serves 20 other destinations across Nigeria including Abuja and Port Harcourt. The airline also serves five West African cities including Accra (Ghana) and Freetown (Sierra Leone). The reach of our extensive Nigerian and West African networks means Arik Air can offer our transatlantic guests convenient local and regional connections that no other airline can match,â€ he emphasised.
The airline will operate a brand new Airbus A340-500 long-range aircraft on the new service. Ideally suited for flying transatlantic routes, the four-engine, wide body airbus is one of the quietest and most environmentally friendly aircraft operating in the world today. It complies fully with airport noise restrictions and with current and future international emissions standards.
Mr Sundaram explained that the Premier Class cabin of Arik Airâ€™s new Airbus 340-500 provides guests with 36 spacious seats that convert into fully lie-flat beds. It also has a private bar and lounge area for Premier Class passengers to socialize and relax.
He explained: â€œOn long haul international routes we recognise that our guests seek comfort and personal space complimented by warm Nigerian hospitality. The individual seat pitch in Arik Airâ€™s Premier Class cabin is 76 inches, which will make it the most spacious seat in any commercial aircraft flying between Nigeria and the US. Each of the 201 extra wide seats in the Economy Class cabin also provides 50% more leg room.
â€œOur on_board experience will ensure we lead in terms of convenience and comfort for transatlantic travel to and from Nigeria. Both Arik Airâ€™s Premier Class and Economy Class products offer personal audio and video_on_demand entertainment including a choice of Hollywood and Nollywood movies.â€