British Airways marked 75 years of flying to Nigeria at a gala event in Lagos where it unveiled its new brand campaign, which puts the customer at the heart of the airline’s business.
Tracing the history of the airline, British Airways Country Commercial Manager for Nigeria, Mr. Kola Olayinka said a lot has happened since it made its debut flight to Lagos in 1936 through its predecessor, Imperial Airways, one of the pioneering airlines in Africa.
The flight, an extension of a service from Kano to Khartoum, connected to the weekly Imperial Airways flight from Khartoum to Croydon in London. Imperial Airways was succeeded by BOAC, and at the end of World War II it opened the London-Lagos services via Casablanca, Dakar and Accra, with the flight taking 29 hours.
Commercial jet service will, however, start on the route on April 1, 1964, using a Vickers VC-10, flying London Heathrow-Kano-Lagos. These services were taken over by British Caledonian Airways in 1971, which later merged with British Airways.
Speaking also at the event, British Airways Area General Manager for Europe and Africa, Mr. Gavin Halliday described the occasion as not only significant for the airline in Nigeria, but also an important time in its history globally, as it coincides with the unveiling of its first major brand campaign in 10 years.
The new brand campaign, he said, signifies much more than an advert, as it represents the opening of a new chapter for British Airways.
According to him, the new brand campaign places new emphasis on a symbol from the airline’s heritage, namely, the coat of arms and its motto, ‘To Fly. To Serve.’ “Today this still has real meaning and resonance. It describes our purpose. It encapsulates our flying expertise and commitment to customer service.
It puts the customer at the centre of everything we do, and defines the essence of British Airways, namely, our flying know-how, our thoughtful service and our British style.”
The campaign, Halliday said, is the guiding principle behind £5 billion the airline is investing over the next five years to improve what it offers its customers. This investment, he disclosed, will include acquisition of three new Boeing 777ERs in the next six months, and by 2013 the arrival of the first of its A380 aircraft, as well as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The new acquisitions, he said, will be fitted with the new First class, the airline’s award-winning Club World, brand new World Traveller Plus and World Traveller cabins.
British Airways, he pointed out, still the only airline with fully flat beds in both the Club and First cabins, with its new First cabin now on 60 per cent of its long-haul fleet, including those on the Lagos-London and Abuja-London routes. And from November this year, he said, the airline will begin the refurbishing of 18 of its Boeing 777-200s which will have all-new cabins.
In addition, he said, its new World Traveller cabin now has more comfortable seats with adjustable head rests, while the World Traveller Plus offers greater seat recline, with both offering new in-flight entertainment that boasts of bigger screens and far more choices.
These investments are not limited to onboard products, as British Airways has also upgraded its menu and wine lists across cabins, while also employing the latest technology to provide faster, more efficient, personalised service, including the use of iPads by its senior cabin crew.
Halliday promised further improvements in the future, and restated the airline’s commitment to providing innovative customer service on all its routes, including Nigerian routes. He stated that Nigeria remains a key British Airways market.
The new brand campaign which was launched recently is currently running in three countries, including Nigeria. The rest are United Kingdom and the United States, just as the new First cabin can be found on London, New York and Lagos and Abuja routes.
The event was attended by eminent Nigerian personalities, including captains of industries, industrial magnates and government functionaries, among others, many of them British Airways First class customers. One of them, Otunba Adekunle Ojora, a Lagos High Chief and Prince of the Adele Ajosun ruling House, thanked British Airways for 75 years of excellent customer service.
“British Airways is in our hearts, and they the leaders of air transport. British Airways has no competition. The staff are excellent, decent and respectful, and they treat people as kings,” said Ojora, one of 100 people around the world that carries a British Airways Premier Card. He first flew on a British Airways flight in 1954.