• Saturday, July 13, 2024
businessday logo


Gambia Bird breaks into W/Africa’s growing aviation business


As air transport in the West African region expands, more airlines are indicating interest in Nigeria which they see as having huge potentials for turning their businesses around.

Gambian airline, known as Gambia Bird, will by the end of this month begin flight services between Banjul and Lagos.

Sodieri Osei-Bunsu, commercial manager of the airline in Lagos at a launch programme in Lagos said the airline which maintains International Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) standard, said it focuses its operations on the most attractive and vibrant cities in West Africa and Europe, whether for business, leisure or family travel.

She disclosed that the operations of the airline which started last October is not complete without Nigeria. “We were reliably informed that if an airline in Africa has not touched Lagos or Abuja, it hasn’t arrived; we are aware that the market here is huge and that is why we are here. We will also consider flying to Abuja after sometime.

She added that the airline is 80 percent owned by Germania Airline, which had been in operation for over 30 years, adding that all the maintenance schedules are carried out by Germania Technick.

According to her, in the course of the operations, the airline plans to interline with domestic carriers in order to enhance passenger distribution in Nigeria.

“We maintain IOSA standard and we have 98 percent customer satisfaction after a survey in the course of the one year operations. We intend to supersede or maintain this level as reliability is key to our success. All our operational set-ups are keyed towards On-Time-Departure and arrival,” she said.

Osei-Bunsu added that as the competition on the routes heats up, Gambia Bird plans to give ‘unbelievable value’ for money, competitive fares; convince, and comfort as well as maintain consistency.

“Reliability is what we do a lot better,” she added.

Obinna Chikezie, managing director of Wakanow, the company’s general sales agent (GSA) in Nigeria assured that the airline sells a lot of packages for short vacation and relaxation.

Chikezie explained that the Agency will work closely with Gambia Bird to sell destinations such as Freetown, Moronvia and Dakar which have huge potentials.

He disclosed that the airline information and services will be on Galeleo, Amadeus and other General Distribution Systems (GDS).

Gambia Bird operates two new Airbuses 319 on the West African routes and another B757 wet leased for its international operations. It flies passengers on two classes; the Economy and Premium.

Passengers who chose to fly in the Economy will have up to 5 kilogramme of hand baggage, up to 30 kg of checked baggage and up to 46kg on B757 flights.

There is at least 31 inches of legroom in all seats with complimentary non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages during meals.

On its Premium class, in addition to the benefits in Economy, passengers will enjoy up to 7kg of hand baggage, 40kg of checked baggage with complimentary headset, pillow and blanket. There will be Deluxe 3 course in-flight meal with selection of beverages, newspapers and magazines.

Osei-Bunsu said return fares from Lagos to Accra start from $280 (N44,000) and return to Banjul from $500 (N78,000).

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has warned the airline to abide by all safety rules and regulations of airline operations in order to avoid being suspended or grounded by the Authority anytime its operations fall short of standards.

Justus Waria, director of air transport regulator of the NCAA, explained that though airline operations are difficult tasks to take, safety must be the watchword.

Olu Owolabi, managing director, Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL), the airline handler, pledged support for its ground operations with new equipment for quick turnaround.

Sade Williams