By Emmanuel Elebeke
The management of British Airways, yesterday marked 80 years of operating in Nigeria and described Nigerian operating environment as harsh to the aviation sector.
The Head of Middle East, Africa and Central Asia Sales, British Airways, Paola De Renzis, who dropped the hint in Abuja, said the airline had been facing a very difficult times doing its business in Nigeria due to the current economic hardship, but had to cope because of the long standing relationship between Britain and Nigeria since 1936.
Rezis, who described the Forex scarcity challenge as a big threat to the aviation industry, however, admitted that the situation is gradually getting better than it was six months ago, due to the intervention of the Central bank of Nigeria, CBN and Federal government.
‘‘The current economic recession has been a big threat to the British Airlaine but for the long standing relationship we have with Nigeria, we have strived to remain afloat.
‘‘We are happy, the Nigerian government, the Minister of Finance, Aviation along side the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria have intervened and the situation is much better when it comes to foreign remittances.
‘‘So, if you look at the current situation compared to where we were like in six months ago, we are in a much much better place. Has the problem not gone away, no and of course we are talking to key stakeholders in Nigeria.
‘‘I can confirm to you now that we are in talks with the Minister of Finance, Minister of Aviation and we will keep on monitoring the situation. We have been around for 80 years and we are very committed to Nigeria,’’ he said.
Beyond the economic challenges, the Head of MEACAS, said the airline has a plan to build on its success into the next 80 years by reviewing its operation and making necessary adjustment to meet future challenges.
‘‘Our plan is to be around for another 80 years if not more. It is our expectation that things will keep improving in the next weeks, months and we keep reviewing our operations in the country.
‘‘We have a long standing relationship with Nigeria and we are very proud of the relationship with Nigeria and many other countries in Africa that we have been around for some time. Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Angola. So, we are very happy with the performance of
‘‘We have a very long standing relationship with Nigeria. British Airways started flying into Nigeria in 1936. At that time, it was Imperial Airways. It flew from London to Kano, had a few stops in between; at the time it took seven days.
‘‘The good news is that things have changed, now the flying time is less than seven hours. We have now daily flies from both Lagos and Abuja. This 80 years of flying into Nigeria confirms the commitment we have to Nigeria, we are very happy with our relationship with Nigeria,’’ said Renzis.