Five years after exiting the lucrative Houston-Lagos route, United Airlines has set plans to operate the first-ever nonstop flight between Washington, D.C., and Lagos and offer more flights between D.C. and Africa than any other US carrier. The airline announced today that a new service between Washington, D.C., and Lagos, Nigeria will begin November 29, subject to government approval.

The airline will operate three weekly flights connecting the U.S. capital to Nigeria’s largest city, which is also the top Western African destination for U.S-based travelers. The carrier states tickets will be available for sale on united.com and the United app this weekend. Already in May, the news broke about United’s plan.

This new flight to Lagos has been highly anticipated by our customers and offers the first-ever nonstop service between Washington, D.C., and Nigeria, as well as convenient, one-stop connections to over 80 destinations throughout the Americas including Houston and Chicago,” said Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of international network and alliances. “On behalf of all of United, we’d like to offer our sincere thanks to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and U.S. Department of Transportation for supporting our plans to provide this service.”

Diplomatic maneuvering, exit

The carrier had worked behind the scenes to return to the route it left after engaging the Nigerian authorities and ironing out issues that would see it become the second airline after Delta Air Lines to operate the US-Nigerian routes under both nations’ ‘Open Skies’ pact signed in 2000.

United attributed its exit from Nigeria to Nigeria’s Central Bank of Nigeria’s foreign exchange policy which restricted the movement of foreign currencies abroad after the global slump in oil prices depleted the country’s foreign reserves.  “We are honored to work with our partners at United Airlines to welcome their second nonstop connection from Dulles International to the African continent,” said Carl Schultz, acting vice president of airline business development at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. “Lagos joins nearly 50 other nonstop international destinations currently served by the National Capital Region’s gateway to the world.”

Resumption of flights to Accra

Ghana on May 15, 2021, welcomed a passenger flight from Washington to Accra operated by United Airlines. At the airport, the US Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan, Ghana’s Transport Minister, MD of the Ghana Airport Company, and other dignitaries were present to welcome Dreamline 787. The Ambassador said, “United Airlines has commenced direct flights between Ghana and the United States, helping to expand our bilateral connections.” The airline operates three flights per week to Accra, offering passengers more traveling options to the US.

United Airlines is the third largest airline globally as measured by fleet size and several routes. It is competing with Delta on the Accra- New York JFK route. About four million people have connections to Ghana across the globe. The United States has over 116,000 Ghanaians living in the country. This implies that there will be many people who will fly to and from Ghana.

Aircraft choice

United will operate this route with a 787. This flight is the only service between the U.S. and Nigeria to offer the premium economy product. Flights will depart Washington, D.C. on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday and return from Lagos on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

This new flight builds on United’s expansion into Africa and solidifies United’s leadership position to Africa from the D.C. metro area, with more flights to the continent than any other airline. Just this year, United launched a new service between New York/Newark and Johannesburg, South Africa, and between Washington, D.C. and Accra, Ghana. And this December and January, United will increase its service to Accra from three weekly flights to daily* as customers travel home for the winter holidays. United is also returning its popular service between New York/Newark and Cape Town, South Africa on December 1.

Making international travel easier

United is the only U.S. airline to offer its own one-stop-shop where customers can conveniently get “travel-ready” by finding a location to schedule a COVID-19 test as well as upload and store their test results and vaccination records directly through the airline’s website and award-winning mobile app with the Travel-Ready Center. The airline’s easy-to-use travel tool available on United’s mobile app enables customers to reduce stress and save valuable time at the airport right from the palm of their hand. United also announced a collaboration with Abbott and became the first U.S. carrier to set up an easy way for international travelers to bring a CDC-approved test with them, self-administer while abroad, and return home.

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