RICHARD Branson’s Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to resume operations on its lucrative Lagos-London-Lagos route on August 24 hoping that by then the Nigerian government would have opened all the country’s airports.
Considered one of the most lucrative routes in global aviation, the Lagos-London journey has been a cash cow for the likes of Virgin, BA, Emirates, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France and Egypt Air. With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Nigeria and the UK closed their airports and halted international flights but over recent weeks, the lockdown has been gradually lifted.
Across the UK, international flights have resumed, with Heathrow and Gatwick seeing some return to normality but in Nigeria, the airports remain shut. Virgin Atlantic, which has been reeling from the effects of the global shutdown, recently warned that it faces collapse unless it gets some sort of bailout.
With the aviation industry now gradually getting of its knees, Virgin has announced plans to restart passenger flight to 17 additional destinations from August 2020. On July 20 and 21, Virgin plans to resume flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong, New York and Los Angeles as part of this gradual return to normality.
Flights from Lagos to London Heathrow will start on August 24 and will provide connections to a range of US destinations. According to Virgin Atlantic, the Lagos-London flight would now be operated on its new A350-1000 aircraft.
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, said: “From our new enhanced social space to extra storage and our latest entertainment system, there’s so much to look forward to. As countries around the world begin to relax travel restrictions, we look forward to welcoming our customers back onboard and flying them safely to many destinations across our network.
“From 20th July we will resume services to New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong then from 1st August onwards, we will resume passenger flying to 17 additional destinations around the world including Lagos, Tel Aviv, Atlanta, Mumbai and Las Vegas. However, we are monitoring external conditions extremely closely, in particular the travel restrictions many countries have in place including the 14-day quarantine policy for travellers entering the UK.”
Nigeria’s airports still remain shut for the time being, however and they will need to be opened for international flights to resume. Lagos’s Murtala Mohammed International Airport is Nigeria’s busiest airport followed by the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, with smaller ones in Kano and Port Harcourt also being major travel routes.