Continental Airlines has announced it has received approval from the governments of the United States and Nigeria to begin non-stop flights between New York and Lagos.

Continental expects to launch the service in the second quarter of 2005. It will be the only scheduled non-stop trans-Atlantic service to Nigeria and the only scheduled service to Africa by a U.S. carrier. With the start of the Lagos route, Continental will become the only U.S. airline to offer scheduled passenger service to six continents of the world.

Further details of the new service, including the flight schedule and launch date, will be announced later.

"We're proud to extend our network to Africa and to provide a unique link between Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, and the United States, its second-largest trading partner," said Continental's President and Chief Operating Officer Larry Kellner, who becomes chairman and chief executive officer at the end of this year.

"Our Lagos service will be highly attractive to Nigerian and American trans-Atlantic travelers, particularly executives in energy-related industries. They will be able to fly more quickly and easily between Nigeria and not only New York, but cities throughout North America, via our hub at Newark Liberty International Airport."

Continental Airlines is the world's sixth-largest airline with more than 3,000 daily departures throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. Continental serves 151 domestic and 120 international destinations and nearly 400 additional points are served via SkyTeam alliance airlines.