Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States Dr. Uzoma Emenike on Monday flagged off the inaugural flight of United Airlines to Nigeria.
The flight took off from the Washington Dulles Airport and landed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Emenike said: “Let me start by first saying a big heartfelt congratulations to United Airlines. Also, I would like to thank the Government of the United States of America and its Department of Transportation for supporting the plan in providing this laudable service.
“Today’s event lay credence and indeed is a testament to the recognition of the dynamic relation between Nigeria and the United States of America.
“I feel deeply honoured and privileged to have been invited. May I state that the Nigeria and U.S relation is growing stronger and stronger, covering all aspects ranging from economic, defence cooperation to good governance, just to mention a few?
“Our partnership is a strategic one. Obviously, Tourism is in that mix as today’s event captures and reflects that. Indeed one must point out that this is a significant milestone.”
She said Nigeria is United States’ second-largest trading partner in Africa.
“Nigeria is on the verge of becoming her number one trade partner in Sub-Sahara Africa. The United States is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria. Nigeria is a veritable investment destination therefore direct flights from the United States to Nigeria further facilitate the investment drive.
“As you may be aware, Nigerian travelers to the United States every year is awesome, and it boosts American and Nigerian businesses, including the education sector, most Colleges, and Universities. We have over 13,000 students studying in the United States and about 7,800 exchange programs between Nigerian and American Universities.
“This is in addition to a teeming population of Nigerian diaspora in the United States. There is no doubt that this will be a lucrative route for United Airlines,” Dr. Emenike added.
She advised United Airlines to in the near future consider other cities, such as Abuja, Port-Harcourt and Kano routes, especially Abuja, being the capital.
“ Let me add here that one is not unmindful of the logistics and processes involved. Where there is a will, there is a way.
“Permit me to assure the United Airlines Management of the usual cooperation, and support of the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Civil Aviation Authority. On our part we hope for the excellent services that United Airlines is known for,” she said.