Nigerian gov’t denies Delta Airlines direct flight to Lagos
ABUJA, Nigeria (eTN) - America’s second largest airline, Delta Airlines, has been dealt a big blow by the Nigeria’s Ministry of Transportation officials following its refusal to approve a proposed direct flight between New York and Lagos.
Report has it that the decision was reached after a prolong meeting with the Nigerian federal government to grant the airline the commercial right to fly directly from a second city in the United States in Nigeria via Lagos.
Travelafricanews.com gathered last night that the Ministry of Transportation did not give any reasons for the decision, which some analysts described as another “shakedown.”
But a source from the ministry said that government’s refusal was as a result of “the domineering attitude of Delta Airlines.”
“You know none of our airlines has started operating into the US, despite being designated by the United States’ government. The US is even asking our airlines to lease aircraft from their own airlines or other airlines that have met their standard.”
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that government may be tactically protecting the interests of the Nigerian designated carriers to the US.
It would be recalled that Delta Airines began direct daily flights from Lagos to Atlanta on December 4, 2007 with a promise to look into operating the New York route from June 2008.
Though Nigeria has an open skies agreement with the United States, any change in the commercial agreement between both countries must be renegotiated and agreed upon by the two countries before any of their airlines can increase frequencies on the agreed routes, an aviation expert said yesterday.
Virgin Nigeria, Arik Air and Bellview were designated by the Nigerian government to fly into different states in the US but they have to wait for the conclusion of the technical audit being carried out on the Nigerian airlines and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Though the US Department of Transportation has granted the airlines provisional right to fly into US airports, a clause in the agreement directed that the airlines make use of aircraft from airlines from a country that has FAA category 1 status.
Local airlines have all attained the category one status except the nation’s regulatory authority, which is still being audited by FAA.
The technical audit would enable the authority to prove that it has the capacity to carry out oversight functions on airlines, airports and aviation personnel in accordance with international standards.
If the NCAA attains the category one status, Nigerian registered airlines and licensed aviation personnel would be accepted as meeting international standards and would be allowed to fly into Europe and the US.
Meanwhile, Emirates Airlines is now the highest selling airline in Nigeria, displacing British Airways that is currently suffering from the mishandling allegations.
Delta Airlines operates daily flights between Lagos and Atlanta and had only wanted to add New York.