ByÂ Laide Akinboade
Continental Airlines announced during the week plans to launch new daily nonstop flights between Houston and Lagos, Nigeria, beginning next year subject to government approval. It will be the first daily scheduled service offered between Texas and Africa by any carrier.
Lagos will be Continentalâ€™s first destination in Africa and the 30th city in its trans_Atlantic route network. It is the second new international destination announced in the last month that will be served nonstop from Houston, Continentalâ€™s largest hub. Continental currently serves 63 international destinations nonstop from Houston
With the addition of flights to Africa, Houston will become one of just four cities in the world â€“ and the only city in the Western Hemisphere â€“ to have nonstop service to every inhabited continent on the globe.
â€œWe are excited to continue to expand our international route network from Houston by adding nonstop service to Lagos,â€ said Jeff Smisek, Continentalâ€™s chairman, president and chief executive officer. â€œThis flight will link two energy capitals and fill the growing demand for nonstop service between the two cities â€“ a route which is currently not served by any other airline.â€
On May 3, Continental announced that it has agreed to merge with United Airlines in a merger of equals to create the worldâ€™s leading airline. The success of the Houston_Lagos route will be enhanced by the additional traffic flows through Houston that are expected to result from the merger.
â€œHouston stands to gain economically from this new direct connection to Africa, particularly in our energy and tourism industries,â€ said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. â€œItâ€™s a win that will help facilitate increased commerce and trade, a direct benefit to the businesses and citizens of both regions.â€
â€œIt is vitally important to our local economy that Continental continue to expand and add critical destinations like Lagos, Nigeria, for service from Houstonâ€™s Intercontinental Airport,â€ said Congressman Gene Green. â€œThis new route will also prove important for the growth of our energy industry here in Houston.â€
â€œWith this new USA_Africa route, Continental is doing more to make the business of international business its business and thatâ€™s a good thing,â€ said Congressman Al Green.
â€œThis new service will drive the creation of new business connections between Houston and Nigeria, particularly in the energy sector,â€ said Congressman Kevin Brady. â€œGrowth at Houstonâ€™s Intercontinental airport helps create jobs here at home and bring in dollars to our communities while offering more options for our business travelers.â€
â€œAs international trade continues to be an increasingly integral part of growing our economy, this improved service by Continental will enhance economic development and create jobs not only for the energy industry, but for all Houston and the state of Texas as a whole,â€ said Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis.
Continental will operate the approximately 6,500_mile flight with a Boeing 787_8 Dreamliner aircraft, seating 36 customers in BusinessFirst and 192 customers in economy class. Flying times will be approximately 11 hours eastbound, and 12 hours 30 minutes westbound. The new flight will reduce travel time between the two cities by over four hours by eliminating any connection en route.