The new entrant to the airline business in Nigeria, United Nigeria Airline has successfully started its operations with an inaugural fight from Lagos today with the promise to give great customer experience with timely departures and inflight services.
Speaking during the inaugural flight activities at the Murtala Mohammed Terminal Two, MM2, Chairman, United Nigeria Airline, Obiora Okonkwo says, what they have in store for customers would be a secret the customers themselves would have to discover and express it themselves, adding that this would differentiate them from other airlines.
“We have to give them great value, great service and then great customer experience that is what we are working on and I think that is what will differentiate us from other operators”.
Mr. Okonkwo stated that as soon their current routes were well developed in the next three months, it would take decision appropriate to their business plan, adding that the airline have enough Embraer to service its routes for now and pilots to operate its current fleet of aircraft.
He also emphasized that no player in the airline business would start off without a business plan but such business would succeed based on the policy on ground.
According to him, there were many issues that needed urgent attention which are critical to the survival of the airline, these he said include amongst others access to foreign exchange.
“There are a whole lot of issues that has to be straightened out from all the sectors and parties that are involved, it is a very crucial area of business but I think its breaks us and protect us, it need more protection and shield from all who are involved, from the regulators, from the government policy and all that. I don’t think that lack of business plan make airline fail”.
Okonkwo suggested among other things the need for government to ensure the survival of the airline business to create a special window for airlines to source and process forex for the seamless operation of their businesses.
” I think that moving forward the issue of foreign exchange sourcing and processes there must be a special Window for the airlines because today, if the bidding process goes through the banks biweekly that is every two weeks, you are running an Airline, you have already spare parts to pick immediately and you wait for two weeks to go to the bidding and then you need $100,000, you get $10,000, you wait for another one month, it can’t work like that, there must a special window, there must be a special funding process to support the airline business because almost 99 and half percent of volume need to be paid, airplanes fly, there are all important, and your ticket sales is in naira, you are not even allowed by the policy to receive payment in foreign currencies, so I really think that a lot has been done more can be done to make it better”.
The United Nigeria Airline boss called for support from government and urged that the Covid-19 palliative revisited as it was still creating a lot of loopholes in some Airline activities.
“They have to look at support system, you know the covid affected the airlines very, very badly all over the world, countries supported their airlines to remain in business, there have been announcement made I don’t know of anybody who have accessed that, it is a very serious issue to be out of business for many months, have people to pay and maintenance to offer, I think it is those areas have to be looked into”