Virgin Atlantic Airways today announced that it will become the first airline to operate direct services between London and Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The services, planned to commence in January 2003 are a result of an agreement that Virgin Atlantic has concluded with the Nigerian authorities and Nigeria Airways. Virgin Atlantic will operate two services per week using an Airbus A340-300 between Heathrow and Port Harcourt.
Commenting on the announcement, Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic said today:
“We are delighted to be able to expand our flight programme to Nigeria to include Port Harcourt, the oil capital of West Africa. We were warmly welcomed in Nigeria when we launched services to Lagos in July 2001 - it has proved a fantastic route for us and has inspired us to extend our services to this region.
“This announcement is also in line with our strategy to expand our operations worldwide which by next summer will include four African, four Asian destinations, five points in the Caribbean as well as nine North Atlantic routes, taking us to twenty two worldwide by next May.
“This is a market which has been crying out for a direct service for a long time. Passengers will now be able to benefit from Virgin Atlantic’s award winning service and attractive fares. This route will also be important for through traffic travelling to the US via London.
“I would like to thank everyone in Nigeria that has made this new route possible, particularly the Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Hon. Minister of Aviation Dr (Mrs) Chikwe; the members of the Aviation Committee of the National House of Assembly; and, the management of Nigerian Airways.”
Virgin Atlantic will begin services in January 2003. Flights will depart Heathrow Airport on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 22:00 and arrive in Port Harcourt at 06:10 the following day. Services will depart Port Harcourt at 11:20 and arrive at Heathrow at 17:30 on Wednesdays and depart at 09:20 on Fridays arriving at Heathrow at 15:30. The Airbus A340-300 operating this route is configured with 40 Upper Class, 28 Premium Economy and 187 Economy seats. Virgin Atlantic also operates services to Lagos six times a week which, it is hoped, will increase to daily from May 2003.
This new route will bring the number of destinations Virgin Atlantic flies to twenty. Virgin Atlantic has recently announced that it will also start services to Tobago and Grenada in May 2003.
For further information please contact the Virgin Atlantic Press Office on (44) 1293 747 373 or our Nigeria representative Chief John Adebanjo on +234 (0) 803 402 1695 or (44) 7970 196484.