The Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of South Africa Airways, Mr. Vuyani Jarana has said that the recent implementation of Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) would enhance connectivity in the region, especially in West Africa where intercity connection is poor.
Jarana also said that the South African would soon return to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja it suspended flight operations about two years ago.
The South Africa Airways CEO said that open skies would succeed through partnerships.
“We have also consolidated on our operations by trying to make the ease of travel better for the West African travellers. So, we are partnering with regional carriers like Africa World Airlines to be able to feed our operations either in Lagos or Accra. So, we are strengthening our operations in Accra. We have flights originating from Accra to Washington and that has proven to be a very sustainable operation. We also have flights originating out of Dakar to Washington as well,” he said.
He observed that it was difficult to connect West Africa through air, but noted that the policy would promote travel and reduce stress air travelers go through on the continent.
On its plan to return to Abuja, Jarana explained that the airline would return services t the route, but was not specific on when this would happen.
He, however, said that the management was working towards this, adding that both governments would need to meet to discuss on the right time for the airline to return to the route.
He said: “What we did was to suspend operations in the use of aircraft we deployed to the route, but we are bringing in our partners with the right economics. So, that piece of work is being done. I think it is for the two authorities to meet, but I can give you much detail on this.”
On its operations into Nigeria about 20 years ago, Jarana, described the country’s routes as profitable and important to the airline, stressing that the country had gotten consistent service and right customers in terms of business and economy classes.
He explained that as a result of this, the airline would continue to support Nigeria and improve the customer experiences with the country’s air travellers.
“We need to protect the Nigerian market and listen to customers more and make sure that our partners continue to support us. So, it’s one of the routes that we have to maintain and grow. It’s not a route we are facing some challenges,” he added.
He emphasised further that South African Airways was on the path of restructuring and currently looking at its balance sheet, revenue management as well as plan to adjust the market for growth and commercial activities.
He, however, noted that the management was not looking at increasing its current fleet in the immediate term, but noted that this would be done in the nearest future