Arik Air has operated the first Nigerian registered commercial aircraft to the United States in two decades. Addressing journalists on Thursday in Lagos, the company’s Senior Vice President, Operations, and Deputy Managing Director, Capt. Ado Sanusi, said Arik Air operated its scheduled Lagos-New York flight on Monday night, using an A330-200 aircraft with registration 5N-JID. The feat, he said, was made more outstanding given that the flight was staffed by a Nigerian crew. He said the latest milestone was the result of an almost three-year preparation, during which time the airline received the Part 129 approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and was also awarded the Extended Range Twin Operations (ETOPS) approval.
Capt. Sanusi said the feat is a major achievement, not only for Arik Air, but for Nigerian aviation in general. According to him, “Arik Air is proud of this achievement and appreciates the support from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), US FAA and all other stakeholders in the industry.” He stated that with the ETOPS’ approval, Arik Air has the flexibility of interchanging between its two variant of wide body aircraft for the Lagos-New York services, adding that the airline has two A340-500 and two A330-200 aircraft in its fleet of 26 aircrafts. Arik Air, he said has scored a number of firsts in its seven years of operation, stressing that it is the first airline in Nigeria to operate new aircraft in almost two decades, as well as the first to operate the A340-500 and new CRJ1000 aircraft in Africa.
Arik Air commenced direct flight operations from Lagos to New York in November 2009 using its foreign registered A340-500 aircraft operated by Hi-fly of Portugal, and was the first direct flight between Nigeria and the United States to be operated by a Nigerian airline in the last decade.