After reaching the 80-year milestone in flight operations in Nigeria, British Airways says it is happy and ready for many more years of its business relations with the West African country.
The Head of Middle East, Africa and Central Asia Sales, Pablo De Renzis, said if the airline had been around in Nigeria for as long as 80 years, it meant a commitment to the country and successful business relationship.
“The first flight from London to Kano took seven days, with some few stops in between. Now, the flying time is less than seven hours. Things have changed a lot now daily from Lagos and Abuja,” Mr. Renzis said.
“These 80 years of flying into Nigeria confirms the commitment we have to the country. We are very happy with the relationship we have with Nigeria,” he stated.
On how business in Nigeria has evolved over the years, Mr. Renzis said when the airline started business in Nigeria, it first flight carried just mails, with no passengers on board.
He said after these years, the business has been such a success that flights have to be extended from Kano to Lagos, and the airline began to carry passengers.
“If we have been around for 80 years, growing in Nigeria, in terms of number of flights and operations, it means it’s been a successful journey,” he said.
The General Manager, West Africa, Kola Olayinka, said the British Airways has impacted Nigeria in many different ways.
Apart from bilateral relationships, Mr. Olayinka said after 80 years in Nigeria, the airline has a number of Nigerian airlines going to the UK for many years, namely Nigeria Airways, Medview, and Arik.
In the area of Corporate Social Responsibility, he said the airline has impacted the country economically, with service offers to a lot of Nigerians to move between Nigeria and the UK, the largest trade partner with Nigeria, after China.
Besides, Mr. Olayinka said during Nigeria ’99 games, British Airways offered its aircraft lift all the players and some officials to different parts of Nigeria, including Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Kaduna.
Specifically, he said the airline has, for years, been supporting a school in Kuje area of Abuja, along with another school in Lagos.
In 2015, he said the company sponsored six Nigerian students from the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology(NCAT), Zaria to participate in a leadership programme.
On the impact of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) foreign exchange policy on its operations, Mr. Olayinka commended the intervention by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and her Aviation Ministry counterpart,Hadi Sirika, alongside the the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.
“But, for their intervention, the situation would have been worse. If we look at the current situation, compared to where we were six months ago, we are in a much better place. The situation is much better when it comes to foreign remittances.
“We are talking to the key stakeholders in Nigeria. We keep on monitoring the situation. We are very committed to Nigeria. Our plan is to be around for another 80, if not more years,” he said.