Ethiopian Airlines has announced the introduction of its 12-hour flight from Lagos to New York which is the shortest flight duration to the destination.
General Manager of Ethiopian Airlines, Nigeria, Mr. Solomon Begashaw, who made this known in Abuja on Thursday at the celebration of the airline's 70th anniversary, said the flight route is in collaboration with Asky Airlines with passengers going through Lomè, Togo before they connect to New York.
He said: "The normal travel time from Lagos to New York is about 20 hours. But we will introduce a 12-hour flight from Lagos to New York three times weekly. This will be the shortest time ever. We are working with other star alliance members in the travel industry to achieve this plan."
According to him, the airline has connected four Nigerian cities to the world beginning with Lagos since 1960, Abuja since 2008, Enugu since 2013 and Kano since 2014.
Begashaw said: "Ethiopian Airline as a State Alliance member of airline operators in the world and has expanded the much needed air connectivity within Africa and the rest of the world in the last 70 years."
In recognition of the role Nigerian passengers have played towards its success, the airline is rewarding 50 passengers via Facebook with free tickets to destinations of their choosing.
The General Manager said: "In April this year we celebrated our 70 years and as part of our celebrations we are giving out 50 free tickets to Nigerians in the next 70 days through a raffle draw.
"Ten of those tickets will go to media. Travel agents for the airline will also benefit."
He said to qualify, prospective winners who must be resident in Nigeria only needed to like Ethiopian Airlines Nigeria page on Facebook and follow the instructions."
Chronicling milestones the airline has achieved so far, Begashaw said its maiden flight was in 1946 to Cairo. But that its major break was in the 1960s when the airline began operations in Nigeria one week after she gained independence.
He said: "In 1962 ET went into jet air era and then began connecting Africa to the Far East up to China in 1973. In 1998 we began transatlantic flights to NYC and IAD.
"Another major milestone was becoming a Star Alliance member in 2011 which meant we could connect our passengers to destinations with other Star Alliance members. In 2012 after Japan we were the second to acquire the B787 Dreamliner aircraft and currently have 13 in our fleet," he said.
"Over the years, we have been able to spread our wings to the world to as far as the West Coast in Los Angeles and to the East Coast in Japan," Begashaw said.
He explained that the airline was currently reviewing its vision 2025 which includes becoming Africa's biggest aviation group, generating 10 billion dollars with core business to include international and regional services among others.
Vice-President of National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Abuja Zone, Mr. Joshua Ogunrinde, the said that Ethiopian Airline stood out in quality airline operations in Nigeria especially as the only airline which didn't compete with its agents as other airlines do.
Ogunrinde, however, urged the Ethiopian government to ease visa issuing process for Nigerians willing to visit the country.