The Nigeria –UK air route remains one of the most lucrative in Africa as weekly flights Kingdom will soon hit 100 if on going discussions between governments of the two countries are finalised.
Currently British Airways operates 28 flights both ways (Lagos and Abuja); Virgin Atlantic operates 14 flights both ways; Arik Air operates 14 flights both ways and Bellview operates 12 flights adding up to 68 flights per week.
The Chief Executive Officer of British Airways Mr Willie Walsh told journalists that UK government and Nigerian government are planning to increase flights and that British Airways is considering increase in its flights to Lagos.
According to him: ‘we plan to increase but that is subject to bilateral and government processes. In Nigeria there are always options to increase frequencies. Currently in Nigeria we are up against a number of bilateral issues which we are addressing.’
On why BA stopped operating to Kano, Mr Walsh explained that ‘Kano is the city we originally started operating, but when Abuja became the capital we moved the Kano flights to Abuja and operate on daily basis instead of three times a week from Kano. Now we operate daily fights to Abuja and daily flights to Lagos. We operate 747-400 to Lagos and Boeing 777 to Abuja.’
He stated that the airline does not have the plans to cut flights from Africa anytime soon despite the global economic meltdown.
‘We have a strong foot in Africa. The Africa market is important to us. There is a recession which does affect passenger numbers and Nigeria is not being unaffected. What we have done is to introduce promotional fares to encourage passengers to fly.
We have slashed fares for first class. You can pay one way in first class, we have two in one fare in business class and we have special fare of 599 Pounds in economy class to encourage passengers to fly’ he added.
By Janice Kew and Michael Patterson