By Sade Williams/business a.m.
United returns, offering premium products, great fare
To train 10 Nigerian female pilots
The management of United Airlines has explained that it changed its old route, Huston-Lagos-Houston to Washington-Lagos-Washington because of the strategic location of Washington DC to the operations of the airline.
The airline, which returned to Lagos five years after it exited the airspace, touched down at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on November 30, 2021, just in time for the busy December Christmas rush.
In 2016 United Airlines operated Huston-Lagos-Houston before it left the country over the country’s forex crisis that made it difficult to repatriate earnings.
Patrick Quayle, senior vice president, international network and alliances, speaking during an interview at a programme organised for travel partners and media at Marriot Hotel, Lagos said: ‘Washington is actually a fantastic market, it’s located on the East Coast, and so it will be able to pick up the Huston traffic as well as pick up the Eastern traffic.’
On the forex crisis that made the airline leave the Nigerian route in 2016, but which still persist, Quayle expressed hope that the airline will not have issues repatriating its sales proceeds.
“We are looking to have a good relationship with the Nigerian government and we are looking at being able to repatriate the money that we have in Nigeria and I am confident that we can work together to have a good solution,” he added.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), had said in October that about $208 million was yet to be repatriated by foreign airlines from Nigeria, a situation the association said may hamper flights to the country.
These funds are ticket sales revenues which Nigeria was unable to remit to the airlines due to paucity of foreign exchange.
Quayle, however, said a ‘new United Airlines’ has come to the route with premium product and best fare, adding that Nigerians can experience the best onboard services.
“We are excited to be in Nigeria. This is a great opportunity to have new service from Washington DC to Lagos and back to Washington DC and other cities beyond. I can’t speak on what happened five years ago but what I can talk about is that this is a new, different, modern company, we have got the best aircraft in the market, the B787, we’ve got the best price out there, with our premium products that you will find on board Heathrow and Tokyo and other airports, so we are excited to be in the Nigerian market and we hope it will be a success, it would be a long partnership with Nigeria and United Airlines.
“We are also excited about competition and we think we are the best product in the market and the product has got numerous rewards and so we are confident that Nigerians can get access to these products when they fly with us,’’ Quayle added.
He disclosed plans by the airline to train 10 Nigerian female pilots as a way of giving back to the community.
“In the foreseeable future, we are going to partner and train young Nigerian women in the United States. They will get some training with United Airlines and when they come back to Nigeria, they will have a better opportunity to fly aircraft. We are looking at training 10 women,” Quayle added.