Image: United Nigeria
Nigeria’s private airline, United Nigeria, is hoping to become a ‘regional and international player’ in the African aviation market.
The airline recently announced its hope to extend operations to several countries in Africa including; Ghana, Angola, South Africa, Niger Republic, and Cote d’Ivoire, with ‘arrangements underway’ to facilitate these routes.
The airline started operations in 2021 with flights from Abuja and Lagos flying to Accra, Ghana, servicing the routes with E145 and E190 aircraft.
It recently expanded its relationship with Embraer after ordering 10 E170 aircraft from the aircraft manufacturer, as well as confirming that Falko Regional Aircraft, a leading aircraft asset management company, is to lease two E190s to the airline.
Now the Federal Government of Nigeria has granted the airline approval to launch international flights.
“We are definitely spreading our wings internationally,” chief operating officer, Osita Okonkwo told FINN. “In the last few weeks we have received authorisation from the Federal Government of Nigeria to look in to starting international flights to the US, the first scheduled to be Abuja and Lagos to Houston. Then we are looking to serve the UK, Amsterdam, Milan and the UAE.”
However, foreign regulatory approval may be difficult as the carrier must complete several processes before these services begin, but Okonkwo is upbeat.
“We are in touch with OEMs – including Airbus and Boeing – all in line with our strategy to expand. We are currently looking at A330s or B777s – but we have many options, so we’re still in talks and deciding,” he said.
Okonkwo added that Nigeria is seeing more of a need for business travellers, hence the choice of initial international routes.
“Nigeria is seeing huge growth in terms of business travel as well as tourist travel. There are a lot of Nigerians living in the US and the UK, for example, and we want to help serve this. The strategy is to expand locally, regionally and internationally.”
He also said the airline is keen to invest in employment opportunities for Nigerians.
“The majority of our pilots, engineers and staff are Nigerian as we like to invest in our own people, but we also realise that as we expand, there will be plenty of opportunities for internationals wishing to join United Nigeria.”