A second gateway in Nigeria materially strengthens SAA’s position in West Africa

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The FINANCIAL — South African Airways’ recently introduced flights from its Johannesburg hub to Abuja, Nigeria, holds much potential for growth on the continent.

“Not only do we connect Abuja with South Africa, but our three weekly flights are timed for easy connections to other parts of Africa which we serve, with the potential of taking our customers from our Johannesburg hub to further international destinations. 

“Since adding Abuja as a second entry point into Nigeria our network team has been hard at work to capture more feeder traffic and source markets for travellers to and from Abuja,” says Aaron Munetsi, SAA Chief Commercial Officer (Acting).

SAA, the award winning and leading carrier on the African continent, on 26 January launched non-stop flights between Johannesburg and Abuja, Nigeria, adding to the already strong links between the two powerhouses on the African continent.

The route launch which adds Abuja as the 25th destination SAA serves on the continent has shown much interest since the launch a month ago with load factors gradually increasing on each flight. The Nigerian market is particularly keen on business travel with business class load factors between Johannesburg and Nigeria approaching 70% (for Lagos) and a steady increase for Abuja, according to South African Airways.

“By increasing our footprint in West Africa, we can also boost passenger numbers even on SAA flights from Accra to Washington as Abuja to Accra is an easy 1h15 minutes away by air and connects very well with SAA’s departure to Washington. This also means that passengers have a much more flexible schedule as SAA has 10 departures from Nigeria to South Africa every week,” says Munetsi.

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Abuja flights have furthermore been scheduled for seamless connectivity into SAA’s inter-continental route network to destinations such as Perth, Hong Kong and São Paulo. This connectivity makes  it easier for regional traders, leisure travellers, those visiting friends and relatives,  the diplomatic community and international organisations, as well as communities from the northern and central parts of Nigeria to connect through O R Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) to other destinations in Africa and internationally.

“As we roll out our African growth plan we are focused on capturing markets which have previously been inaccessible due to regulatory and other constraints. SAA’s African Growth Plan focuses on adding to the airline’s existing strong presence on the continent and how destinations on the continent tie-in with the airline’s international route network,” says Munetsi.

In August 2015 the airline introduced flights between Accra, Ghana and Washington DC in North America, with convenient onward connections to the East coast of the US on SAA partners United Airlines and Jet Blue. 

The introduction of the Accra-Washington route has seen a steady growth in the number of passengers using this route and has performed in line with expectations. “This has provided SAA with the confidence to invest further and enhance its footprint in West-Africa.” 

SAA’s introduction of a second entry point in Nigeria, besides the long-established daily flights to Lagos, forms part of the airline’s Long-Term Turnaround Strategy. A second gateway in Nigeria materially strengthens SAA’s position in West Africa, where it plays a significant role in enabling the movement of goods and people to and from as well as between Southern Africa and West Africa.

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Expanding these air travel links also speaks to the ever strengthening   bilateral relations between South Africa and Nigeria. Historically, the two countries have had strong diplomatic, social and fraternal ties being the two economic powerhouses of Africa. 

The three weekly non-stop flights between Abuja and Johannesburg are operated by modern Airbus 330-200 aircraft, offering SAA Business class luxury and Economy class comfort, with the latest in-flight entertainment content.


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