British Airways in Nigeria since 1936
On February 9, 1936. the weekly Imperial Airways’ flight from London to Khartoum connected with another flight to Kano, heralding the start of services to Nigeria.
The flight carried mail rather than passengers, but apparently the initiative was successful, because by October the same year the service was extended to Lagos.
The carrier De Havilland DH86A biplane took seven days to complete the journey to Lagos.
Today Imperial Airways’ successor, British Airways operates daily, direct Boeing 747 and 777 services to Lagos and Abuja.
It is of significant note that the British Airways then ran as a government enterprise has been fully pravatised with some Nigerians having major shares in the airline which carries the British flag. Top among Nigerians with shares in the airways were the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuade Okunade and the late Emir of Kano, Ado Bayero who were directors on the board before their demise.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has lauded the operation of the British Airways in Nigeria, describing the 80 years of service as a great feat.
NCAA which spoke through its General Manager, Public Relations, Sam Adurogboye, was of the view that Nigeria has a lot to learn from the airways especially its resilience and more importantly, the way it had successfully metamorphosed from a government enterprise to a full private outfit generating huge income for the country and the shareholders.
According to Adurogboye the British Airway experience in transformation from a government agency to a successful private outfit would become handy at his point in time when Nigeria is making plan to own a new national airline.
“It’s amazing to think that in just 80 years we were operating biplanes that could carry seven passengers and it would take a week to complete the journey. Today’s aircraft can carry between 226and299 customers and you can be in London five-and-a-half hours after leaving Lagos or Abuja,” says Paolo De Renzis, British Airways head of sales for Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.
Speaking further he said “at the moment we operate a mix of B747 and B777 to Lagos and Abuja. We keep on reviewing our works as network changes. We operate B777 in Abuja and B747 and B777 in Lagos. The B777 operates with first class both to Lagos and Abuja.
The B777 operates with first class both to Lagos and Abuja. The first class is a very important market for us. We are aware of challenging times in Nigeria. Our operation is very strong and Nigeria remains our very strong market.” He said
British Airways offers daily flights from Lagos and Abuja to London, from where it flies to some 200 destinations in nearly 90 countries.
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