SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS (SAA) has announced that it would deploy its brand new Airbus A330-300 on the Lagos- Johannesburg route stating that the Nigerian market was special to its heart and that it will continue to provide the best for the market despite the trying times.The airline also affirmed its commitment to the Nigerian market stating that it was no news there was a recession but that SAA is not cutting any route but is instead developing what it has while stating that recessions do not last
Regional Manager North, West and Central Africa South African Airways, Ohis Ehimiaghe made this known earlier today as he stated that,” In SAA we value this market and we are not going to cut flights despite the challenges we are facing, already the airline intends to deploy its brand new Airbus A330-300 on the Lagos route. This aircraft just arrived amidst celebration in Johannesburg last week and we are deploying it here. We want Nigerians to smell that breath of a new aircraft. You all know the feel of how a brand new car smells, so we want them to feel how a brand new ‘tear-rubber’ aircraft smells.”
The SAA A330-300 aircraft deployed to the Lagos-Johannesburg route is one of the five new state of-the-art, environmentally friendly, super-comfortable aircrafts that the airline has acquired to improve its service offering for passengers’ memorable journey.
Aboard the SAA new A330-300 aircraft, Nigerian travellers will enjoy brand-new 46 Premium Business Class and 203 Economy Class seats with warm, neutral colours and cabin furnishings which provides a comfortable, elegant, hospitable and relaxed ambience, leaving travellers feeling well rested after long flights.
The Regional manager however gave the downside to the operational woes of SAA in Nigeria including the damage of four of its aircraft, one of which had to stay on ground in Nigeria for repairs for eight days with the airline losing huge amounts of money.
Other challenges the airline faced included the fuel scarcity and the forex challenge which he noted had made the airline’s operations hectic especially with its inability to repatriate its funds .
On the infrastructure challenge, Ehimiaghe said that SAA had damaged four aircraft in Nigeria’s Abuja runway stating that the cost of repairs for those aircraft were the responsibility of the airline which was serious to run its business as it could not wait for the airport authority to fix their aircraft.
He said, that on its own is taking its toll and that it is about time work started on the Abuja Runway to ease the burden on operators.
The airline’s representative further explained that fuel has been a major challenge in the country and this has affected the airline immensely, even though it has yet to cancel any flight based on the reason of jet A1.
“There is the problem of Jet A1, in truth there is hardly any product most of the time. In fact it would be a big relieve to have the product and smoothen operations. As it is now, we have to fly to neighbouring Ghana to get the product and that is an additional cost. There is hardly aviation fuel more times than there is and it’s because government lays emphasis on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) because aviation seems an elitist thing.”
“Even the Ghana where we go to get Jet A1, it seems to be depleting. For us, we have like four oil marketers whom we are in contract with in Lagos and we have three in Abuja I think. The truth is some of them request their payment in United States Dollars while others request in Naira and we would even rather prefer to pay in Nigeria but in truth, supply of the product has been poor and airlines are feeling the impact.”
On a cheerful note, the airline’s representative in North, West and Central Africa said the airline rewarded four of its major Travel management Companies (TMCs) in Lagos and another three in Abuja for outstanding sales of the airline’s ticket for 2016 with Wakanow.com topping the Platinum Agent list on the Lagos front.
According to the airline other TMCs in Lagos include HRG Nigeria, FinchGlow and Quantum.
According to Ehimiaghe, the airline did a similar feat in Abuja where three companies emerged with Topaz coming on top as the Gold Agent. He further said the airline every year recognizes those who work hardest to sell its ticket and has consistently ensured they got their just rewards.