Roundtrip commercial airline flights between Nigeria and Jamaica will be tested in December of 2020 and January of 2021, according to Janet Olisa, Nigeria’s outgoing High Commissioner to Jamaica. Olisa said the trips from Lagos to Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay are meant to prepare the way for a regular direct air route between the two countries. According to Olisa, the plan represents a collaboration with her Jamaican counterpart Esmond Reid, who is in Abuja, Nigeria. She went on to say that she would like more Jamaicans to visit Nigeria to learn about their African heritage. She also hopes that direct flights between Nigeria and Jamaica will increase trade and foster more commercial relations between the two nations.
The planned flights will be undertaken via a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA), which is designed to establish direct flights between Lagos/Abuja and Kingston in the shortest possible time. The agreement is set to be finalized in the pending third session of the Nigeria-Jamaica Joint Commission, according to Professor Viola Onwuliri, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Once implemented, travel between Nigeria and Jamaica, which currently takes some 17 hours, will only take about eight hours, considerably reducing problems associated with costs, traveler fatigue, obtaining transit visas through the United States or other connecting countries, and issues with luggage handling.
While recognizing the high costs and logistical challenges involved, Olisa stated that her one disappointment during her three-year term in Jamaica was not being able to convince the island’s business leaders to pursue commercial interests in Nigeria, although she acknowledged that information trading does occur. Once passenger flights are in place, Olisa believes the next step will be to begin moving cargo, goods, and services freely between the countries. When both Nigerian and Jamaican stakeholders buy into the plan, the flights are likely to become more sustainable and less expensive.
Olisa also hopes that the incoming Nigerian High Commissioner to Jamaica will continue the effort to improve trade relations between the two countries.
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