Emirates airline is set to expand its presence in Africa’s most populous country Nigeria, with the start of a daily linked service to Abuja and Kano from 1 August 2014. The announcement follows Emirates’ recent milestone of 10 years of successful operations to Lagos, to which the airline flies twice daily.
Abuja, located in the centre of the country, is a planned city built largely during the 1980s which replaced Lagos as Nigeria’s capital in 1991. It is the seat of the Federal Government and home to most of Nigeria’s institutions, including the Central Bank of Nigeria and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Abuja is also the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States and the regional headquarters of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Kano, the capital of Kano State in northern Nigeria, is the second most populous city in Nigeria after Lagos, and has a history that goes back hundreds of years. The area is known for the production and export of groundnuts, which was a major source of Nigeria’s export earnings before the oil boom in the 1970s.
Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of the airline, introduced a scheduled freighter service to Kano in October 2013, and with Abuja joining the network, Emirates will now fly to 26 destinations in Africa and 142 worldwide in 80 countries.
Emirates launched services to Nigeria on 2 January 2004 with four flights per week from Dubai to Lagos linked with Accra in Ghana, using an A330-200 aircraft. Just over a year later Emirates increased its services from four to six flights a week, and following further demand, it became a daily operation in October 2005. On 1 January 2006, Lagos was delinked from Accra and became a direct service to Dubai. On 1 February 2009, a second daily service was introduced, and today each flight is served with a Boeing 777-300 ER.
“Nigeria is experiencing strong demographic and economic growth. The country is strategic to Emirates’ global expansion, as is Africa. With a daily linked service to Abuja and Kano, we will offer from three major cities in the country a very convenient and comfortable access to Dubai, and onwards to other destinations on the Emirates network, including more than 30 destinations in the Middle East and Asia Pacific, where we operate our popular Airbus A380 to 12 cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Sydney. The new service will also help create new opportunities for business, industry and tourism,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.
The route will be serviced by an Airbus A340-500 offering a total of 258 seats in a three class configuration – 12 in First Class, 42 in Business Class and 204 in Economy Class. Customers will experience Emirates award-winning service by its multi-national cabin crew, gourmet cuisine and its ice entertainment system, offering hundreds of channels of on-demand audio and visual entertainment. Emirates’ customers also receive a generous baggage allowance of 50kg for First Class, 40 for Business Class and 30 for Economy Class
Emirates SkyCargo will offer over 200 tonnes of cargo capacity per week, with main imports expected into Abuja and Kano being personal effects, clothing material and electronics, while exports include leather, kola nuts, spices and fresh meat.
Further testament to the growing importance of Nigeria as a key Emirates market, Emirates Holidays, the tour-operating arm of Emirates, last December opened a dedicated retail office and call centre in Lagos in partnership with Tour Brokers International (TBI) Ltd, who was appointed Preferred Sales Agency (PSA) for Nigeria.
Abuja will be the first stop on the linked service on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and Kano will be the first stop on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Emirates flight EK 785 will depart Dubai at 1030hrs and arrive in Abuja at 1450hrs. It will depart Abuja at 1640hrs and arrive in Kano at 1750hrs. The return flight will depart Kano at 2025hrs and arrive in Dubai at 0615hrs the next morning. Flight EK 786 will depart Dubai at 1030hrs and arrive in Kano at 1430hrs. It will depart Kano at 1625hrs and arrive in Abuja at 1735hrs. It will depart for Dubai at 2005hrs arriving at 0615hrs the next morning.