Virgin Nigeria to Begin Lagos-New York Route

Issues and information related to travel to and from Nigeria.

Virgin Nigeria to Begin Lagos-New York Route

Postby Richard Akindele » Tue Jul 04, 2006 6:19 pm

The chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airline, Sir Richard Branson has assured Nigerian travelers that Virgin Nigeria would soon get the right to operate the lucrative Lagos -New York route, saying the approval given by the Nigerian Government to an American airline to begin operations on the US-Lagos route may facilitate that.

Branson while urging the US Government to allow a Nigerian carrier fly direct to their country route, however said the US had done everything to prevent Virgin Nigeria from plying the US route, expressing hope that there would be a change.

Branson told newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday that America should not continue to pra-ctice a one-sided open skies policy, which European carriers were resisting.

He noted that even tho-ugh Virgin Atlantic had 49 per cent of shares in Virgin Nigeria, the Nigerian inves-tors had 51 per cent and the company also had a Nigerian chairman which qualified it to fly on the route.

On Virgin Nigeria, Bran-son expressed satisfaction at its performance so far expla-ining that in the last one year, it had been like a baby mo-ving towards maturity.

He expressed delight that the airline was doing well on the domestic route as well as on the regional and Intern-ational routes, plying Johan-nesburg, Ghana and London, noting that it was an airline that made Nigeria proud.

Branson stated that by the end of the year, Virgin Ni-geria would have 1,000 staff, 850 of whom would have been Nigerians trained by the airline.

He said he looked fo-rward to the airline being one of the best in the world, in the next 10-15 years and com-mended Mr. John Adebayo, Virgin Atlantic represe-ntative in Nigeria, for making project a reality.

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Direct U.S.-Nigeria flights to resume

Postby Richard Akindele » Tue Jul 11, 2006 5:26 pm

LAGOS, July 11 (Reuters) - A U.S.-based airline will start New York-Lagos flights next week, three years after a dispute between Nigeria and the United States halted direct flights between the two countries, an aviation official said on Tuesday.

North American, a unit of World Air Holdings Inc. (WLDA.PK: Quote, Profile, Research), has secured a permit to fly direct to Lagos after Nigeria apparently backed down in a dispute with Washington over flagship airline Virgin Nigeria [VA.UL], a diplomatic source said.

"I can confirm that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has given North American a technical permit to fly to Nigeria and they will begin operations next week," a spokesman for the authority said.

Virgin Nigeria, 49 percent owned by Briton Richard Branson's Virgin Group and 51 percent owned by Nigerian investors, was set up after the liquidation of state-run Nigeria Airways, which used to fly from Lagos to New York and London.

Last year, the United States barred Virgin Nigeria from flying to New York citing Branson's interest in the airline. Washington argued it would be unfair to permit a partly British-owned airline to benefit from the U.S.-Nigeria open-skies agreement.

Nigeria countered by banning Continental Airlines (CAL.N: Quote, Profile, Research) from flying the same route.

The Lagos-New York route is very popular and when flights are available they are usually packed.

The diplomatic source said the dispute over Virgin Nigeria had still not been resolved.

New York-based North America, a charter and scheduled passenger airline, said it would offer three weekly round trips with its Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, which has 30 business class and 176 economy seats. The airline currently flies to Ghana and the Gambia.

"Lagos is a logical addition to the North American Airlines system," the airline's chief marketing officer Rob Binns said in a statement.

North American had already tried to fly to Lagos in 2003, after Washington lifted a 10-year ban on direct flights to Nigeria, but that was called off after a few months following the collapse of a partnership with little-know Rite Time.

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