Management of South African Airways (SAA) said yesterday that the shine, for the airline, would have been taken off the 2010 World Cup had Nigeria failed to qualify.
South African Airwaysâ€™ Country Manager, Nigeria, Ms. Thobi Duma, who disclosed this at a briefing to mark the airlineâ€™s 11 years of operating flights into the country, said the airlineâ€™s now grand 11th anniversary celebration would also have been affected by it.
Duma said Nigerian passengers have been loyal customers to the airline, stressing that its prayers was for the country to qualify for the World Cup, especially as the game of football keeps Nigerians united and happy.
â€œAt South African Airways, we are very happy that Nigeria is going to the World Cup.Â In fact, the World Cup would have been gloomy for us, if Nigeria did not qualify,â€ Duma said.
According to her, the airline is doing everything possible to make Nigerians travelling for the tournament get to every of Nigeriaâ€™s match venues.
Duma said the airlineâ€™s operations do not revolve only around its hub in Johannesburg, adding that it has the capacity to move Nigerian fans to other parts of South Africa where the Super Eagles would play their matches.
On the airlineâ€™s preparedness for the high volume of traffic the World Cup would generate from Nigeria, Duma said the airline management would discuss with the Nigerian government for extra frequencies to ensure no Nigerian missed out of the action during the World Cup.
She also spoke of plans by South African Airways to replace the Boeing 747 aircraft it currently uses from Nigeria with a newer plane to make things comfortable for Nigerians going for the tournament.
Duma, who described the airlineâ€™s operations from Nigeria as very profitable, despite the global meltdown, South African Airwaysâ€™ passion for Nigeriaâ€™s qualification was driven by the vibrancy of the Nigerian travel market and the need to identify with the people for their unquestionable loyalty over the last 11 years.
South African Airways began flight operations into Lagos on December 3, 1998, and only recently extended its operations to Abuja, raising the number of its frequencies in Nigeria to 14 weekly flights.