After heavy financial losses, South African Airways (SAA) will end its joint venture with Nigeria Airways on March 24, bringing to a close the Johannesburg-Lagos-New York route.
The route was launched in February 2001 and connected Lagos with New York, eight years after Nigeria Airways stopped flying directly to New York. When the Johannesburg-Lagos-New York route was launched this enabled Nigeria Airways to continue the Johannesburg-Lagos leg to New York, with SAA as the carrier.
Nigeria Airways was allowed to sell 109 seats out of the 330 of the Boeing 747-300 used on the route. Flights were operated with SAA flight deck crew, with joint on-board service by SAA and Nigerian crew.
Discussions with Nigeria Airways to reduce the 109 seats to 30 failed. SAA had no alternative but to end the relationship after losses amounting to about R54 million.
Although South African Airways and Nigeria Airways will no longer operate the Lagos New York route they will still fly between Johannesburg and Lagos.
South African Airways will continue to accept bookings from New York to Lagos for flights operated until March 23 when passengers can still catch an SAA flight to Johannesburg. The airline will accommodate passengers currently holding South African Airways tickets issued on or before March 12 for return flights after March 23 by flying them via Johannesburg, where they may connect to Lagos. This offer is extended only to passengers booked and ticketed by South African Airways. Nigerian Airways is responsible for passengers booked and ticketed through its services.
SAA is involved in talks with other airlines like Air Senegal with the view of establishing a hub in West Africa. Flights to Dakar in Senegal could possibly replace the flights to Lagos in Nigeria.
South African Airways provides the only non-stop flights from America to South Africa on Boeing 747-400s, one of the most modern aircraft in the skies. The four direct flights a week to New York are not affected by the agreement with Nigerian Airways.