VIRGIN Nigeria will commence flights to Dubai on May 2 at a launch fare of Dh1900, says the company’s chief commercial officer Graham Keddie.
“Dubai is a no-brainer. It’s the premier destination for West Africa,” he says. “One in five Africans are Nigerians and they as the Nigerian economy expands, Dubai is becoming an increasingly popular destination.”
The carrier’s general sales agent in the UAE is Sharaf Travel. “We chose Sharaf because of their strength in both passenger and cargo sectors,” says Keddie.
While Keddie anticipates that inbound tourism to Nigeria to be difficult, he expects the country’s business links with Dubai will more than fill the aircraft. The airline will begin with three flights a week, which will grow to a daily frequency by the first quarter of 2007, as aircraft are added to its fleet. With a fleet of five aircraft, Virgin Nigeria expects to be flying 11 aircraft by the end of the year and 40 by the end of the decade. It expects to double its 700 staff by the end of the year.
The route to Dubai is part of an expansion on both short- and long-haul sectors. “We are already flying to London and Johannesburg, and after Dubai, our concentration is the United States, where we are waiting for a waiver on the American aviation act.” In the US, New York will be its first destination, followed by Washington DC, for the political and NGO traffic, and Houston, for the oil market.
New short-haul routes include Libreville, Bamako, Abidjan, Monrovia, Freetown, Kano, Brazzaville and Luanda.
On the flight plan are routes to Beirut, Bangkok, Paris and Frankfurt.
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