• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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What Nigeria will gain with FG’s partnership on direct flights to Texas


The federal government recently announced that it was collaborating with the United State of America on direct flights from Nigeria to Houston, USA.

The ministry of aviation and aerospace gave the assurance when it received request from a delegation from the US government for a direct flight from Nigeria to Houston, having a consulate office in Houston city.

Emmanuel Meribole, permanent secretary in the ministry while receiving Sylvester Turner, the Mayor of Houston, Texas, United States of America, and his delegates in his office, noted that the current administration is disposed to investment, tourism and building on the existing bilateral relationship.

Meribole assured them that all modalities required for the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between the nations as regards direct flight to Houston Texas would commence as soon as new ministers are appointed and deployed appropriately.

How BASA comes in

BASA is an air transport agreement between two countries that allows designated airlines to operate commercial flights, covering transportation of passengers and cargoes.

Read also: Explainer: Why airfares from Nigeria are higher than African peers

Advocates for BASA say if well utilised, it will promote air services and connectivity between two countries, enhance business, and promote tourism.

As such, the partnership of the federal government with the United State of America on direct flights to Texas is expected to boost business between Houston and Nigeria and promote tourism between both States.

Seyi Adewale, an aviation analyst and chief executive officer of Mainstream Cargo Limited told BusinessDay that there is a very large population of Nigerians in Texas and this may have spurred the need for a direct flight.

“We have a good Nigerian community in Texas and many of them are moving into politics and getting offices. I believe the Nigerian community there is asking for direct flight so that it is easy for Nigerians to move from Nigeria to Texas. They may be consulted with airlines that have seen the viability of that particular route. Currently, Nigerians connect flights from Texas into Nigeria

“All American airlines that operate into Nigeria connect flights from Texas into Nigeria. These airlines may have seen the viability in the sense that most connecting flights go to Texas. It is either this or the government wants to create an enabling environment because they want to support the black community by ensuring they have direct flight into Nigeria,” Adewale said.

According to the World Population Review updated in January, 2023, in South America, Texas has the highest number of Nigerian Americans, reaching 102,544 individuals or 0.34 percent of the state’s population. Georgia follows with 32,918 individuals, making up 0.30 percent of its population.

Turner earlier pointed out that Houston is Africa’s second largest urban trade partner in the U.S. and home to one of the largest Nigerian diasporas in the country, hence the need for a direct flight there.

He stated further that Houston is a gateway for trade to the central and the Western United States, with strong infrastructure and strategic geographic location and that the visit is to further complement Houston’s efforts to expand their relationship with Nigeria through healthcare, technology, agriculture, energy and education.

Olumide Ohunayo industry analyst and Director, Research, Zenith Travels said Nigeria already has an open skies agreement with the United States which gives Nigeria an opportunity to operate into any city of our choice with as much frequency as we can operate into any of those cities.

“Why are none of the American carriers flying directly from Houston into Nigeria? If they are looking for a Nigerian airline to do this, I hope the Nigerian airline would have looked at the pros and cons and see how they can use it.

“It is unfair that despite giving us a five year head start when open skies were signed, we did not take advantage of it. Today the Americans are here and Nigerian carriers are yet to start flights to the United States. We need to look at how we can empower our carriers when they fly the flag or we come together and develop a flag carrier owned by all,” Ohunayo said.