Nigeria’s flag carrrier, Arik Air says it plans to extend flight operations to India, the world’s second most populous country, by offering direct flights to the Asian country, as it seeks to capture large pools of travellers along the route.

Discussions over the possibility of launching direct flights from Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, to India surfaced during the visit of the Ajjampur Rangalah Ghanashyam, the country’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, to the airliner’s Lagos headquarters, This Day reported.

“With over 120 daily flights, 26 aircraft and over 2000 direct employees, Arik Air qualifies as a serious player for any Indian airline to partner with in order to facilitate seamless flights between the two countries,” said Ghanashyam.

Passengers travelling between Nigeria and India usually have to make stops at South Africa, Ethiopia or Dubai before landing in India, making for a hectic and energy sapping trips. However, launching a direct flight will further save travel time and increase customer patronage, thereby boosting business flows and tourism for both countries.

Nigerians regularly fly to India for medical treatment, as the Asian country boasts a robust healthcare system, and also represents a cheaper alternative to European and North American countries like the US, Canada, United Kingdom and Germany. According to local daily, Business Day, 47 percent of Nigerian visits to India are primarily for medical reasons.

According to the High Commissioner, “Direct flights are also important during medical emergencies, because direct movement of patients during emergencies would save a lot of lives.”

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