Left to Right – Ohis Ehimiaghe, Regional Manager, West and Central Africa; Vuyani Jarana, Group Chief Executive Officer; Aaron Munetsi, Regional General Manager, Africa, Middle-East & Indian Ocean Islands and Kemi Leke-Bamtefa, National Sales Manager, Nigeria all of South African Airways at the press conference commemorating the 20 years anniversary of the airline’s service to Nigeria.
South African Airways (SAA) has airlifted no fewer than 3 million passengers in its 20 years of operations into Nigeria.
This was disclosed by the group chief executive officer of South African Airways, Vuyani Jarana during a press briefing at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos today, Tuesday, December 4 to celebrate 20 years of the airline’s flight operation into Lagos.
Speaking during the press briefing, Jarana stated that Nigeria is a very important market for South African Airways
He noted that South African Airways (SAA) is committed to improving on their services to the Nigerian people which is responsible for why it deployed the current state of the art Airbus A330-300 aircraft to the Nigerian route.
The group CEO of SAA maintained that the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa dates back to the dark days of Apartheid where the country played a vital role in the fight against the then racist government.
He said the airline is helping in facilitating the ease of doing business in the country by delivering e – commerce to the Nigerian market within the shortest time.
Jarana said South Africans also play big roles in religion tourism in Nigeria.
He disclosed that the country’s authorities are working on ways of improving, and reviewing visa processes which will help to improve on the overall connectivity.
Jarana pointed out that the airline is working on the issue of turnaround, new opportunities, frequencies, clear strategies, commercial opportunities and maximum use of its aircraft.
The Group CEO explained further that the airline is looking at spending on the right things, cutting down on cost, having strong commercial people, concentrating on commercial aspect of its operations so as to improve on profitability, and services.
He said the management of the airline is working hard to fix things as SAA has gone through difficult time in recent years, adding that the airline has not lacked strategies but implementation of the strategies.
“Nigeria is among the top destinations to which we fly, and over the past 20 years SAA has transported over three (3) million passengers into the region and we will continue to listen to our customers to ensure we are providing them with the best possible service for continued loyalty. Reinforcing our legacy of exceptional service, SAA was recently voted Best Airline Staff in Africa at the World Aviation Awards,” Jarana emphasised.
He explained that the airline turnaround will take three years (2021) to execute all the strategies and for the airline to break-even.
In the area of using the airline to drive tourism, the group CEO said that plan is still on course but added that the airline will now look at what the market wants and use a balance approach in ensuring profitability.
“The Nigeria operations rank amongst SAA’s most profitable and we want to continue to support this important destination by continuously improving the overall customer experience and exploring new opportunities. This will enable us to retain our market position as the carrier of choice amongst the Nigerian travelling community. Our understanding of our customer profiles who travel in both business and economy class cabins, is one of the reasons we decided to deploy the A330-300 aircraft which responds well to the needs of this market,” said the group CEO.
With its thriving economy, Nigeria is Africa’s economic powerhouse; Lagos is a high-energy city famous for its vibrant lifestyle, set against the backdrop of the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, and their world renowned music industry bolstered by heavyweights such as the late legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti to the modern day Davido, Dbanj, and Psquare to mention a few. Nigeria offers numerous commercial opportunities and a cultural experience like no other.
It commenced operations on 4 December 1998 as SAA launched its first flight into Nigeria soon after the Bilateral Air Service Agreement between the two countries had been signed. SAA has since brought several aircraft onto this route, from the initial Airbus 300 series, which had to make a technical stop en-route in Luanda to the Boeing 767 and the B747-400 and to the Airbus A340–600, which was then replaced by the current state of the art Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
SAA operates a daily service to Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos, consistently delivering exceptional turnaround times and excellent facilities including state of the art on-demand inflight entertainment system, increased economy and business class space and legroom for extra comfort.