Nigeria Airways, SAA exploring new areas of co-operation

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Building on the success of their five-month-old joint venture agreement on the lucrative Lagos-New York route, Nigeria Airways Ltd (NAL) and the South African Airways (SAA) are exploring new areas of co-operation, according to an SAA official.
SAA's Regional Manager (Nigeria), Aaron Munetsi, told PANA in Lagos that in addition to the training of Nigeria Airways cabin crew, SAA may also assist in the training of NAL's ground and ticketing staff and the resuscitation of the depleted NAL fleet.
He said the two airlines may also extend their co-operation to other routes and to cargo transport.
"Nigeria Airways officials just came back from South Africa (where they went) to discuss (new) areas of co-operation.
Senior Engineers from South African Airways were also here a few weeks ago," Munetsi said.
"We believe we need to make the Nigeria Airways a strong partner," he added.
The SAA official said the ultimate aim of expanding the co-operation was to develop Lagos as a hub from where the entire sub-region could be serviced.
"We need to get the hub working first, then we can talk of long distances," he explained.
Reviewing the joint venture on the Lagos-New York route, which started operation 21 February 2001, Munetsi described it as a big success and a "win-win situation" for both airlines because "it is based on transparency.
" He said SAA's three flights a week from Lagos to New York (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) had an average load-factor of 75 percent, with 60 percent of the ticket sales originating from Nigeria and 40 percent from the US.
Under the seat-sharing agreement, Nigeria Airways is allocated 109 seats on each of the flights, operated with a "state-of-the-art" 747-400 Boeing aircraft.
Munetsi also described relations between officials of both airlines as "fantastic and very professional.
" He said a major factor in the success recorded so far on the route was the on-time departure of the flights and the good services provided by SAA.
"We have set a standard in on-time departures," he said.
Nigeria Airways, whose fortunes nose-dived in recent times, resorted to the joint venture to service the route after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lifted a ban imposed on the airline in 1993.
FAA said it imposed the ban because of security lapses at the nation's main gateway, Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, although industry sources felt the measure was part of Washington's displeasure with the return of military rule in Nigeria, which returned to democracy in May 1999.
At a ceremony to mark the resumption of flights on the Lagos-New York route, Nigeria's Aviation Minister, Kema Chikwe, said it had opened a "new horizon" for Nigeria Airways, with a tremendous potential to generate more funds to invigorate its operations and sustain its workforce.
The agreement is for 12 months in the first instance.

06 august 2001 18:52:00

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