Delta Airlines, the leading US carrier across the Atlantic, made its inaugural direct flight from Atlanta, US, to Lagos Tuesday, with the flight’s arrival in Nigeria witnessed by an array of dignitaries from both countries, PANA reported.
CEO Richard Anderson
Delta Air Lines’ Boeing 767-300 touched down at the gateway Murtala Mohammed International Airport here at exactly 0825 GMT.
With a serious headwind bothering the aircraft, the plane made the journey in 12-1/2 hours.
It is expected that the return flight, which took off at 10.25GMT, would be assisted by a tailwind and it will get to its desitnation two hours less than it took it to come.
Tuesday’s inaugural flight marks the beginning of Delta Air Lines’ daily, non-stop flight between Lagos and Atlanta.
The American party to the ceremony was led by Ambassador Andrew Young, a former US Ambassador to the UN and an ex-Mayor of Atlanta, while on hand to welcome the visitors was a Nigerian team led by the Minister of State for Air Transportation, Mr. Felix Hyat.
Speaking at the tape-cutting ceremony, Mr. Hyat said the Nigerian government had offered Delta Air Lines all possible assistance and co-operation leading to the inaugural flight, and demanded that same be extended to the three Nigerian airlines already operating flights to the US.
The airlines are Virgin Nigeria, Arik Air and Aero Contractors.
According to the Minister, the flight will ease the problems encountered by Nigerians intending to get to the US and vice versa, as well as cement the business and other relations involving passengers on those flights.
In her speech, American Consul-General here, Mrs. Donna Blair, said the flight would also promote the economic and social ties between the two countries.
Also speaking, Ambassador Young said the flight was Atlanta’s best way of paying back to Nigeria the assistance which retired Army Gen. Henry Adefope gave to the US city to host the 1996 Olympic Games.
According to Mr. Frank Jahangir, a Vice President of Delta Air Lines, the company operates flights to more than 140 cities worldwide.
The direct flight to and from Lagos will offer Nigerian passengers easy connections to other destinations within and beyond the US.
Founded in 1924 in Monroe, Louisiana, in the US, Delta Air Lines has expanded in scope and size, making a profit of US$58 million in 2006.
The company has a staff strength of 47,000, including 6,000 pilots and 11,000 flight attendants.
Delta’s active aircraft fleet is put at 475 planes.
It is the only major US carrier to operate flights between Africa and the US with flights between Atlanta and Lagos, Johannesburg in South Africa, Dakar in Senegal and Accra in Ghana.