According to findings by our correspondent, the two Airbus A330-200 aircraft dedicated to the route have been taken to France for C check, which is an extensive visual inspection of specified areas, components and systems as well as operational and functional checks of an aircraft for maintenance purposes.
The last flight to New York by the carrier, it was gathered, was on Friday, February 3, 2017, with the suspension of flights taking effect a day after. The suspension is expected to be lifted on February 18 when the aircraft are due to return to Nigeria.
Our correspondent gathered that normal operations would commence on the route on February 19 and that the suspension was initially planned for January.
When our correspondent attempted to book a New York flight through the airline’s customer service line, the representative said there were no flights to the JFK until February 19 without giving any explanation.
Arik operates the Lagos-JFK service on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with check-in starting at 5pm and take off at 11:45pm, but when our correspondent visited its check-in counter at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on Wednesday, there were no New York bound passengers.
The airline had in the last two months been having issues with its passengers on the New York and London, United Kingdom routes over delays and outright cancellation of flights.
While appealing for the understanding of passengers booked on the Lagos-New York service in December, the airline had said regular operations would be normalised from Thursday, December 29, 2016, attributing the cancellations to the damage to its A330-200 aircraft with registration mark, 5N-JIC by a ground handling company at the JFK International Airport, New York.
The Public Relations and Communications Manager, Adebanji Ola, in a text message said, “It is not a suspension. We only cancelled a number of flights to enable the aircraft to go for maintenance in Europe.”
Meanwhile, security operatives on Wednesday were said to have barred aggrieved passengers of the airline from gaining entry into its headquarters at the Lagos airport.
Eyewitnesses said the aggrieved passengers came to demand for the refund of their air ticket fares as a result of cancelled flights between December and early this year.