South African Airways‘ (SAA) today launched flights to Abuja as a second gateway in Nigeria.
The inaugural flight with a contingent of senior government officials, and media guests on board, carried a substantial number of passengers proving the popularity of the route. The flight departed on Tuesday, 26 January at 23h55 from Johannesburg (via Lagos) and landed today, 07h30 in Abuja – where the aircraft was greeted with a traditional celebratory and welcoming water salute as it taxied into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
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 between Southern and West Africa.
“What better way to celebrate the New Year and 2016, which promises to be a great year for continued growth on the continent, by adding a second point in Nigeria – one of the most popular and profitable routes in the SAA African route network. Introducing Abuja adds more travel options for our customers, especially for the business community, and enhances our footprint on the continent,” says Aaron Munetsi, SAA Acting Chief Commercial Officer.
This second entry point in Nigeria gives expression to the implementation of SAA’s long haul strategy, which identified growth on the African continent as one of its key objectives. Nigeria is one of the fastest-growing air travel markets in sub-Saharan Africa and will be well served with SAA’s additional services to Abuja.
Expanding these air travel links also speaks to the growth in bilateral relations between South Africa and Nigeria. Historically, the two countries have had strong diplomatic, social and fraternal ties as the two economic powerhouses of Africa.
The three weekly non-stop flights between Johannesburg and will operate with modern Airbus 330-200 aircraft, offering SAA Business class luxury and Economy class comfort, with the latest in-flight entertainment content.
Abuja flights have been scheduled for seamless connectivity into SAA’s inter-continental route network to destinations such as Perth, Hong Kong and São Paulo, making it easier for regional traders, leisure travellers, those visiting friends and relatives, diplomatic communities and international organisations from the northern and central parts of Nigeria to connect through O R Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) to SAA’s inter-continental and regional route network.