Virgin Atlantic and Nigeria: 17 wonderful years and counting

As we get older, birthdays become a bit less special. However, it’s good to remember that every year is a blessing, and our lives can still be full of opportunities and new experiences, no matter how much time passes by. This is certainly the case for our team in Nigeria, who today are celebrating the 17th birthday of our London–Lagos route. Every year, we work harder to earn the loyalty of our customers, knowing that when we look after our people, our people will look after our customers, and our customers will come back and fly with us again. Of course, we don’t always get everything right. But in Nigeria, we’re lucky to have some of the most experienced people in the business, who’ll always work swiftly to correct things when they don’t quite go to plan.

Over the last year, we’ve seen our airport Net Promoter Score – a measure of customer loyalty – rise higher, as we’ve worked to improve the airport experience by streamlining our check-in process, offering thoughtful treats to our customers, and significantly improving our punctuality. Our Lagos flight is now the third most punctual across our global network, and we’ve also revamped our menu to offer more and better Nigerian cuisine, coupled with the latest Nollywood films and music. It’s all part of our commitment to be Nigeria’s airline of choice for travel to the UK and beyond.

Richard with Sophia Ike-Onu

As we transition into our eighteenth year, we’re becoming a more mature business, taking time to re-invest in the community we serve. Among other initiatives, we’ve supported the careers of local Lagos entrepreneurs by linking them up with our founder and president Sir Richard Branson for long-term business mentoring. In fact, one of those entrepreneurs, Sophia Ike-Onu, who founded the 5K shop selling Nigerian goods, became the face of our latest media campaign. We’ve also delivered over 200 kg of medical supplies to local maternity wards and re-invested in our people in Nigeria with better remuneration and career-changing training.

The benefits that aviation brings to local communities is quite often understated. One wide-body flight a day can directly support the careers of up to 50 people – filling the aircraft with passengers and cargo, servicing it, catering it, cleaning it, securing it and getting it away safely and securely. When an airline flies to any given country and Nigeria is no exception, the extent of inward investment it supports is untold. We’re proud to convey not just the biggest corporations in the world to Nigeria, but also some of the fastest-growing small and medium enterprises too, under the banner of ourFlyingC o proposition. These investors spend money on hotels, restaurants, transport and gifts, creating a whole second-tier of investment into the country. And we’ve not even mentioned the countless long distance relationships we support over the 3,100 miles between Lagos and London!

As we look into the future beyond our birthday, we’ll always strive to keep improving and stay relevant to the contemporary marketplace. We’ve already changed the game in Economy by offering an upgraded Economy experience for only $50, which includes bonus miles, extra legroom, and priority check-in and boarding. At the same time, we’ve made flying more affordable by offering a bag-less fare for anyone looking for a quick weekend break. We’re also fast-approaching the arrival of our A350-1000 aircraft, whose fuel efficiency and superlative customer experience will change the game again. Given the growth expected from the Nigerian economy over the next few years, coupled with our continued investment in Nigeria, we’ve never had so many reasons to be confident about our future in this vibrant West African nation. We look forward to serving Nigeria for the next seventeen years and far beyond.

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