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.
The airline however announced yesterday that it will stop flying to Nigeria next month, ending operations on its only African route just a few weeks after the Spanish national carrier, Iberia Plc, stopped flights to Nigeria, citing plummeting passenger traffic as the reason.
United Airlines said in a note to employees on Wednesday that the daily route from Houston to Lagos had underachieved for years but was kept alive because of its importance to Texas-based customers.
The last flight will be on June 30, 2016, after which Delta Air Lines will be the only major US carrier flying to Africa.
Highlighting the reason for the US carrier’s exit from Nigeria, United Airlines’ spokesman, Jonathan Guerin, told Bloomberg, “Repatriation has been a significant issue, as has been the downturn in the energy sector.”
In an emailed statement to our correspondent, the Head of Press, Europe, Africa, Middle East and India, United Airlines, Mr. Kevin Johnston, said, “United confirms that it will discontinue its service between Houston and Lagos. The last departure from Houston will be on June 29 and the last departure from Lagos will be on June 30.
“We have regretfully taken this decision because of the route’s poor financial performance. We will contact customers with bookings for flights beyond those dates to provide refunds. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Passengers can still fly to Nigeria on United’s trans-Atlantic business partner, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, through a connection in Frankfurt. The Boeing 787 serving Lagos will be used on the San Francisco to Tel Aviv route, which will expand to daily in October from three times weekly, according to the airline’s note to its employees on Wednesday.