South African Airways plans to make Abuja a second flight entry point to Nigeria in addition to Lagos, expanding business travel options in West Africa, according to a report in FinancialChannel.
The first flight is scheduled to depart O.R Tambo International Airport on Jan. 26 2016.
SAA said adding a second gateway to existing daily service to Lagos will strengthen the airline’s position moving goods and people between Southern Africa and West Africa and enhance trade and cultural exchanges.
In August, SAA introduced an Accra, Ghana-to-Washington, D.C. route in cooperation with Africa World Airways. This gave SAA the confidence to invest further and enhance its footprint in West Africa, FinancialChannel reported.
SAA confirmed it is technically insolvent and relying on government guarantees — about $1.2 billion worth — AirTransportWorld reported in February. “SAA has been reliant on guarantees from its shareholder (the South African government) for several years,” the report said.
Other African airlines that struggled to survive in the past two years include Kenya Airways, Air Namibia, Air Zimbabwe and Air Malawi, BusinessInsider reported in 2013.
A second entry point in Nigeria forms part of SAA’s long-term turnaround strategy, which identified growth on the African continent as one of its key objectives, said Sylvain Bosc, SAA chief commercial officer, according to FinancialChannel.
“Nigeria is one of the fastest growing air travel markets in sub-Saharan Africa,” Bosc said. “Introducing Abuja as a second entry point… will add more travel options, especially for the business community, and will enhance our footprint on the continent.”
Abuja flights will connect to destinations such as Perth, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo through O.R Tambo International airport.
With Abuja, SAA will be serving eleven destinations in Central and West Africa, with flights from its Johannesburg hub to Lagos; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Cotonou, Benin; Accra, Ghana; Douala, Cameroon; Dakar, Senegal; Libreville, Gabon; Kinshasa, DRC; and Pointe Noire and Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.
Three non-stop weekly flights will operate between Johannesburg and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
Source: Dana Sanchez, AFK Insider