British Airways, one of Europe’s leading airlines, has said its revenue generation from Nigeria has gone down by about 10 per cent, while that of South Africa fell by 23 per cent due to the global economic recession, which has taken a huge toll on airlines operations worldwide.
However, the private Guardian newspaper reported Friday that despite the dwindling revenue, the airline intends to increase its flights to Nigeria.
“The more flights we have to Nigeria the cheaper the air fares,” British Airways Regional Commercial Manager, Africa, Mr. Ian Petrie, was quoted to have told journalists.
Mr. Petrie said the global economic recession, coupled with soaring oil prices, had taken their toll on the airline business, as major clients from other industries including banks and oil firms, among others, have drastically reduced their travel budgets.
He said the government could help to bring down airfares by creating more capacity in the market.
On the controversy over alleged high air fares charged by European carriers, the airline chief said the availability of more flights to and from Nigeria would ultimately bring down airfares.
Petrie however said while economy tickets out of Nigeria are cheaper than in Ghana, the business class tickets and first class tickets out of Nigeria are high because there are more demands for those classes of fares in Nigeria.
Commenting on the controversial plans by the Nigerian government to reduce the age of aircraft flying in the country’s airspace, Mr. Petrie said the age of aircraft does not in anyway affect its safety.
“The question can be answered in two ways. It is not the age of an aircraft that makes it unsafe. It is the maintenance of the aeroplane that makes it safe or not and BA’s maintenances are top class. Our aeroplanes are maintained to the highest standards, we have the checks of different categories coming up all the time to the D-Check, which comes out as new.
“The problem with ageing aircraft is that they become more expensive to maintain as they get older. So, all our aircraft pass all safety standards. The Civil Aviation Authorities of all countries including that of the UK oversee our aircraft,” he said.
PANA reports that the age of aircraft operating in Nigeria became an issue following the 3 June crash of a Dana Air-operated MD-83 plane on the outskirts of the commercial city of Lagos that left at least 159 dead.
The revelation that the ill-fated aircraft was over 20 years old at the time of the crash jolted many Nigerians, who felt the age of the plane may have contributed to the fate that befell it.
According to preliminary report by the Accident Investigation Bureau, dual engine failure caused the crash of the Dana Air plane.