x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Emirates Airline partners with Nigeria’s Arik Air for wider access to west Africa

The deal came as the UAE is growing in popularity as a base for multinational companies serving the African market.

Arik Air covers domestic routes in Nigeria, along with several countries in western Africa and Johannesburg in South Africa, from its hubs in Lagos and Abuja. Akintunde Akinleye / Reuters
Arik Air covers domestic routes in Nigeria, along with several countries in western Africa and Johannesburg in South Africa, from its hubs in Lagos and Abuja. Akintunde Akinleye / Reuters

Emirates Airline has signed a partnership agreement with Nigeria’s Arik Air in a deal that opens up new routes throughout western Africa for the carrier.

Operating from two hubs in Lagos and Abuja, Arik Air covers domestic routes in Nigeria, along with several countries in western Africa as well as Johannesburg in South Africa.

The deal came as the UAE grows in popularity as a base for multinational companies serving the African market. The UAE’s links with Africa have swelled in recent years amid rising trade and investments. Recently, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been active in encouraging companies in Dubai to boost exports to a continent with a market of more than 1 billion people. It opened a trade office in Ethiopia in 2012 and plans to open others.

“We intend to explore the potential of codeshare arrangements as passenger traffic flows mature between both parties’ networks,” said Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ senior vice president planning, aeropolitical and industry affairs.

The two airlines will also consider expanding their partnership to include frequent flyer programmes, passenger and cargo handling.

“Virtual growth through partnerships from Gulf carriers tends to be with Etihad, not Emirates or Qatar. But Nigeria is an important market and constrained by the aeropolitical environment,” said Will Horton, senior analyst at Sydney-based Capa – Centre for Aviation.

“Arik Air still has much to fulfil on its own before it could consider being a savvy strategic partner for any major carrier,” Mr Horton added.

In 2013, Emirates signed a partnership with Qantas, an alliance that resulted in a switch of the stopover for Qantas long-haul flights to Dubai from Singapore, ultimately boosting traffic at Dubai International Airport.

In February, Emirates leveraged its relationship with Qantas in order to expand its market share in Asia-Pacific. The Dubai-based carrier signed a codeshare agreement with Jetstar, Qantas’s low-cost unit. The agreement gave Emirates’ passengers access to 27 new routes and six new destinations in Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

selgazzar@thenational.ae

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