Delta Airlines says it is set to increase passenger traffic in Nigeria by 36 percent with its launch of a direct flight from Lagos to JFK airport in New York.
It said though it transported 377,000 passengers from Africa to the US in 2017, with 89,000 of the passengers from Nigeria, a low figure when compared to 2016, with $12 billion investments spread across 10 years to improve air travel experience, the figure for 2018 will surpass that of both years.
Corneel Koster, senior vice president, Delta Air Lines for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and India, disclosed this at the airline’s launch of the direct flights between Lagos and New York, on Wednesday in Lagos.
Koster said the airline was also targeting a 10 percent increase in the African market in 2018, from its operations in Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and the Gambia,
He said with the U.S.being the largest foreign investor in Nigeria, the new route underscores the airline’s commitment to the Nigerian market as it seeks to facilitate more trade and commerce between both nations and the airline was proud of its 10-year history in Nigeria as they are the only airline to offer daily nonstop flights, bringing benefits to Nigerian business travellers while also providing more opportunities for them to reunite with families and friends across the United States.
“Delta’s New York-JFK and Atlanta flights from Lagos are operated using 234-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft, offering an elevated on board experience in every cabin among which is RFID bag tracking technology, enabling customers to keep track of their bag’s location from check-in to the baggage carousel through notifications sent to their mobile phones,” he added..
Bobby Bryan, Delta Air Lines director, west, east and central Africa, said Lagos was the airline’s largest base of operation in Africa due to their belief that there is a positive trend in the Nigerian economy and it makes a lot of sense to connect Lagos to New York because both cities have high volume of businesses.
He said the Lagos to New York-JFK flight would operate three times weekly, with Delta’s existing services to Atlanta departing on the other four days.
Bryan said though 2017 was challenging for them from the economic point of view, the airline is now stronger and ready to do more as the forex crisis experienced last year has been settled.
He said the airline gives back one percent of its profits as a corporate social responsibility initiative to communities it operates in and has invested in a lot of projects in Lagos, Nigeria.