Faced with depressed demand thanks to persistently low fuel prices, United is suspending its flight from Houston to Lagos, Nigeria effective June 30, 2016. Having already abandoned Accra, Ghana, United will lose its last link to Africa. United will redeploy the 787 Dreamliner currently used on the Lagos route to make the new San Francisco – Tel Aviv service daily.
In an internal note to employees, United claimed that its Lagos route had been losing money for years and was only kept up due to pressure from high-value clients in Houston. United also blamed Nigeria, stating that it has “not been able to collect revenue from tickets and cargo sold locally in Nigerian currency,” revenue that amounts to roughly half of overall revenue on the route. Corruption is rampant in Nigeria — I can personally attest to having to buy off a government official during my time there…
Both Brad and I have traveled on the route and I was planning to return to Lagos this autumn and make my way up through West Africa, visiting Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, and finally Senegal. That trip will become more difficult now because fares into West Africa are not exactly cheap or easy to plan. I wish I had time before June 30th to make one more trip, but I will not.
SFO-TLV will not go daily until October.
If oil prices rebound, and we know they will, look for a United return to Lagos, but for now it just did not make sense. Who can blame United for this latest cut?
Not that it merits another post, but United also is also cutting service from Los Angeles to New Orleans, just as American adds new nonstop service. It is sad to watch UA shrink at LA while AA and Delta aggressively expand, but with a hub in San Francisco and seemingly irrational expansion by AA and DL, I cannot blame United here either.
photo courtesy of Brad