Five years after exiting Nigeria, United States-based airline, United Airline, yesterday said it would return to the lucrative US-Lagos route starting late 2021. The airline, in a statement, said that starting in late spring of 2021, “United will become the only airline serving Washington D.C. nonstop from Lagos with three weekly flights. The route will be served by a very efficient, spacious, LED lighting B787-8 Dreamliner aircraft. According to the airline, the new service marks United’s return to Nigeria, which the airline previously served up until 2016.
“We are excited to announce our return to Nigeria. This new nonstop service will strengthen our international route network and provide our customers from Nigeria with direct access to the United States and the possibility to connect via our Washington Dulles hub to destinations across the Americas,” said Marcel Fuchs, United’s Managing Director International Sales. Fuchs said connecting Lagos to the U.S. would open up new opportunities for both business and leisure travellers and help their customers in Nigeria reconnect with friends and families around the world. He, however, stated that the new route is subject to approval by the Federal Government.
United had, in May 2017, ended operations to Nigeria, its only African route at the height of the country’s recession occasioned by weakness in the energy sector and difficulties in repatriating money from tickets sold in the country.
With crashed oil prices and a failing economy, the Lagos–Houston route, which was once a favourite, especially for oil sector workers and executives, suffered a major decline in patronage. The carrier also exited the country because of the route’s poor financial performance. In addition, airlines operating in Nigeria at that time faced a hard time with foreign exchange restrictions. United Airlines started operations into Nigeria on December 13, 2010 as a result of the open skies agreement signed between Nigeria and the United States to boost economic relationships between both nations.