Over 15000 student visa applications pending as envoy apologises for delay

American carrier, United Airlines, has returned to the Lagos-U.S. route offering a new option for Nigerian travellers on the transatlantic corridor.

The carrier, after a five-year hiatus, has commenced three weekly nonstop flights connecting Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, and Washington Dulles International Airport, Washington.

At the inauguration meeting with stakeholders on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said United’s return to the route is a delight that brings positive economic benefits with safety and security offerings to the two countries.

“This exciting initiative further expands our economic relationship, promotes people-to-people ties, and creates new opportunities for United, travel companies, and customers alike,” Leonard said.

The envoy thanked the Nigerian public for their patience in the last seven months of delay on travel visas. She noted that over 15,000 student visa requests were lately received and are still pending. She, however, urged applicants to “take heart as there will be light at the end of the tunnel.”

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With three weekly flights, United is the first and only airline serving Washington, D.C. nonstop from Lagos, and now an alternative to passengers that had been travelling through Atlanta on Delta Airlines.

The United flight is operated with state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, featuring United’s award-winning United PolarisSM business class cabin and United Premium PlusSM premium economy seats.

A water cannon salute, a day earlier, marked the arrival of United flight UA612 with United’s Country Sales Manager Nigeria, Oluwatomi Bola-Sadipe; Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) Regional General Manager, Victoria Shin-Aba, and U.S. Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, welcoming the first arriving United customers at MMIA.

United’s Senior Vice President International Network Planning and Alliances, Patrick Quayle, said the new flight from Lagos reinforces their ongoing commitment to growing United’s network in Africa and providing more convenient service to customers’ destinations.

“This highly anticipated service will provide a key gateway between Lagos and Washington D.C., as well as easy one-stop connections to almost 80 destinations across the Americas, including Houston and Chicago,” Quayle said.

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This new flight builds on United’s expansion into Africa and solidifies the airline’s leadership position from Africa to the U.S. Earlier this year, United launched a new service between Johannesburg and New York/Newark and between Accra and Washington, D.C.

This December and January, United will increase its Accra service from three weekly flights to daily. United will also bring back its popular nonstop service between Cape Town and New York/Newark on 1 December 2021. United’s new flights comply with each countries’ COVID-19 protocols and customers should check destination requirements before travelling.