Pretoria – South African Airways (SAA) has introduced flights to Abuja as a second gateway to 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,” said the national carrier on Wednesday.
The flight departed on Tuesday, 26 January at 11:55pm from Johannesburg (via Lagos) and landed at 7:30am in Abuja. 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.
SAA said a second gateway to Nigeria strengthens the company’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, 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,” said SAA Acting Chief Commercial Officer Aaron Munetsi.
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.
SAA said expanding air travel links shows 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 Abuja 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.
It will make 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 OR Tambo International Airport to SAA’s inter-continental and regional route network.