Arik Switches 747s for 787s

Nigeria’s Arik Air has replaced its order for two Boeing 747-8Is with two 787-9 Dreamliners, after originally ordering the 747s in October 2011 and becoming the first African customer for the 747- 8. Boeing reflected the change in its order book at the end of January. Arik Air has nine 787-9s and eight 737 MAXs on order as it aims to grow its fleet to more than 50 aircraft over the next decade. However, the carrier has been going through tough times lately, with a strike over unpaid wages in December 2016 briefly shutting down operations and unpaid insurance problems bringing a halt to flights in September 2016. Arik Air is aiming to expand operations in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to offset a local currency crisis and flagging demand. Guy Martin

Heathrow Consultation

A four-month public consultation has started for the proposed third runway at London Heathrow. The UK Government published its draft airports national policy statement in February, which explains why a third runway is the government’s preferred scheme for expanding airport capacity and outlines the planning policy. The consultation will close on May 25. Its results and the draft policy statement will be scrutinised by parliament before a final vote in winter 2017- 18. Mark Broadbent

E-Jets for Airlink

South African Airlink has ordered three Embraer E170s and two E190s from Embraer subsidiary ECC Leasing, becoming the first South African E-Jet operator. The aircraft will be delivered from mid- 2017 and their arrival is part of a fleet replacement strategy that calls for 13 E-Jets to replace Avro RJ85s. Airlink is now sourcing the additional eight E190s to make up the balance of the fleet. In December 2016, the airline began adding 11 ex-Chautauqua Airlines ERJ 140s to its fleet. By end-2017 it will operate 30 Embraer regional jets. Guy Martin

Biofuel ATR

An ATR 72-600 has undertaken the first flight for the type using biofuel. An aircraft from Swedish carrier BRA Braathens Regional Airlines flew on a blend of 45% cooking oil and 55% regular Jet A1 on a flight from Stockholm- Bromma to Umeå. ATR says several R&D initiatives are under way in Sweden to produce biofuels from wood grown in the nation’s forests, which cover more than 50% of the country. Mark Broadbent