…Says Washington DC-Lagos direct flight a milestone
By Clifford Ndujihe
Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Uzoma Emenike, has urged United Airlines to consider expanding its flight operations to other major cities in Nigeria such as Abuja, Port-Harcourt and Kano routes, especially Abuja, the federal the capital, assuring the Airline of the cooperation, and support of the Federal Government, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA.
The ambassador spoke on the heels of the United Airlines inauguration of direct flights between Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport, IAD, and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
The airline will be flying a 243-seat Boeing 787-8 on the route three times per week – Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The inaugural flight left Dulles on Monday. The Airline first announced the decision to fly into Lagos in September 2020 and the route finally went on sale a year later. This development marked the airline’s third route launch to Africa this year.
The inaugural flight launch at Washington’s Dulles International attracted dignitaries including the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Uzoma Emenike; Vice President of International Network and Alliances, Mr. Patrick Quayle; and the United Airlines Director of policy, Mr. Chaitan Jain among others.
Thanking the government of the United States of America, and its Department of Transportation for supporting the plan in providing the laudable service, Ambassador Emenike, according to a statement, said the move is a testament to the recognition of the dynamic relation between Nigeria and the United States of America.
Her words: “Nigeria and U.S relation is growing stronger and stronger, covering all aspects ranging from economic, defence cooperation to good governance, just to mention a few. Our partnership is a strategic one. Obviously, Tourism is in that mix as today’s event captures and reflects that. Indeed one must point out that this is a significant milestone.”
“It is important to highlight that Nigeria is the United States’ second largest trading partner in Africa. Nigeria is at the verge of becoming her number one trade partner in Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria. Nigeria is a veritable investment destination therefore directs flights from the United States to Nigeria further facilitating the investment drive.”
Highlighting the huge potential in air travel between the two countries, she said that “Nigerian travellers to the United States every year are awesome, and it boosts American and Nigerian businesses, including the education sector, mostly colleges and universities. We have over 13,000 students studying in the United States and about 7,800 exchange programmes between Nigerian and American universities. This is in addition to a teeming population of Nigerian diaspora in the United States. There is no doubt that this will be a lucrative route for United Airlines.”
Mr. Patrick Quayle, Senior Vice President, International Network and Alliances, at United Airlines who leads the team that put the Washington-Lagos route on the map harped on the strategic importance of the Lagos route, adding that from Dulles, it also enables connections across the airline’s network.
“This is a fantastic hub because in this bank, we can connect more than 80 cities, 80 different cities across the United States and Canada can come in here, and now have one-stop service to Lagos. On top of that, there is a huge market in the greater Washington area, as well as the Nigerian embassy right here in Washington D.C. So this is a quick, easy way to get home to Nigeria,” he said.