Delta will remain premium carrier for Nigeria passengers – Director

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United States-based global carrier, Delta Air Lines, has renewed its commitment to remain a premium carrier of choice for Nigeria passengers as air traffic continues to grow across countries after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Director of Sales, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India, Delta Air Lines, Paul Hassenstab, said this during a visit to Nigeria alongside some top executives of the Atlanta-based American carrier.

Delta flies to top destinations in Africa and recently marked its 17 years of operating non-stop scheduled flights to Nigeria continent’s biggest economy.

Flying to over 275 destinations worldwide, the Atlanta-based Sky Team alliance member carried over 200 million passengers in 2023.

 According to the Delta sales director, the US carrier will remain a premium carrier of choice and will not renege from its dedication to the Nigerian community it is serving.

“I think we want to continue to be the premium carrier of choice for Nigeria. That is the commercial side of it. We also want to be committed to the community in Nigeria,” Hassenstab said

While passengers are looking forward to Delta extending its services to key Nigerian cities like Abuja and Port Harcourt, Hassenstab believes Delta’s current priority is to continue to give passengers the best services on the Lagos route.

He said, “Right now, our primary goal is to make our daily service work for us. We love to expand our operations. If you look at Delta, in terms of the wide-body airplanes that we operate, today, we have roughly 165 wide-body aircraft that we deploy to all around the international stations around the world. We just placed a new order with Airbus a couple of weeks ago with new A350-900s and 1000s and also A350 Neo which we equally have taken delivery of and I think that will give us the opportunity to expand as the business case in each market but today, our focus is making things work for us.”

Delta Air Lines views competition as a good thing for any market, according to sales director.

United Airlines, which is Delta Air Lines’ close rival on the Nigeria route, flies between Lagos and Washington DC.

Chicago-based United Airlines suspended flights to Nigeria in June 2016 due to a foreign exchange crisis in the country. In December, the US airline resumed flights to join Delta on the Lagos route.

Two Nigerian carriers-Air Peace and United Nigeria Airlines, have indicated interest in launching flights to the United States.

Hassenstab however stressed that Delta Air has operated uninterrupted flight services into the Nigerian market in the past 17 years, and is not afraid of competition, noting that the Atlanta-based carrier will continue to serve the country’s finest flight services.

   “We don’t fear competition, competition makes us better. They make people better,” he said, adding that the US carrier would continue to build on its next-generation airport experience in its Atlanta hub.

According to him, Delta has built an impressive legacy in its several decades of operations. “We are going to be 100 years old next year. We were born in 1925. We look forward to celebrating it. It is a testament to the service. That stands out. We have a model that takes care of customers and that makes customers come back,” he said.

Delta operates the Nigerian route seven times a week, offering 3100 seats.

The sales director also said the carrier was committed to renewable fuel as a premium global airline.

“We have shown commitment to Sustainable Aviation Fuel. We have  10 per cent of our fuel consumption to sustainable aviation fuel. In the long term, we are looking at hydrogen power which is much longer term. We are very much committed to reducing carbon emissions by 2050. We will get in there step by step by investing through partnerships,” he added.

Hassenstab emphasised Delta’s commitment to the Nigerian, saying, “this market has been good to us in the last 17 years that we have been here. Our entire ground team here, including Nigerian nationals are doing a tremendous job.”

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