ENUGU- United Nigeria Airlines (U5), one of the prominent airlines in the country, has obtained authorization to operate new international flights.
As per the approval issued by the Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, the airline is permitted to conduct international flights to various destinations, including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
United Nigeria New Flights
The approval, conveyed through a letter dated September 8, 2023, and signed by Mr. H.T. Ejiburu, Director of Air Transport Management, on behalf of Mr. Festus Keyamo, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, states that this decision aligns with the existing Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and each of these countries.
The letter states: ‘I have been instructed to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated August 2, 2023, regarding the subject mentioned above, and to convey the approval of the Honourable Minister for the designation of United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited to conduct international flight operations to the following countries and cities: Netherlands (Amsterdam), Italy (Rome), United Arab Emirates (UAE) (Dubai), United Kingdom (London), United States of America (USA) (Houston), and Ireland (Dublin).
The designation of United Nigeria Airlines Company Limited aligns with the existing Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the governments of these six countries.
As a result, the airline is advised to coordinate with the Civil Aviation Authorities of the mentioned countries to complete the necessary documentation before commencing scheduled flight operations.
Additionally, it is imperative that the airline complies with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulation (Nig. CARs (2023) Part 220.127.116.11 A-C) and, if required, collaborates with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to meet these requirements.
Please be aware that this approval has also been communicated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for further appropriate actions.’
Inexperienced in Int’l Operations
Based in Enugu, the three-year-old airline currently operates a fleet of four Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft, specifically the long-range variant of these regional jets with 50 seats. These aircraft are known to have a published range of 1,550 nautical miles.
However, the Houston to Lagos route spans a distance of 6,512 miles, making it essential to have ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) certification. Commercial operations on this route would be unfeasible without a mid-Atlantic refueling point.
Even with such refueling options, at least one flight segment would still need to cover approximately 2,000 miles. Additional crew members would also be required, considering the distance and necessary stops, says ViewfromtheWing.
Although the Nigerian government has granted authorization for United Nigeria flights to Houston, it’s worth noting that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may have concerns about a relatively new airline with no prior international experience, limited experience operating the required aircraft, and no established history of the rigorous security protocols necessary for U.S. operations.
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