Mr Aaron Munetsi, Regional General Manager, Africa and Middle East, South African Airways (SAA), says Nigeria has a vibrant aviation industry that can compete with any other country of the world.
Munetsi stated this in an interview with our reporter on Friday in Abuja.
He said that the country’s rating in terms of aviation industry in Africa was a success story, adding that he had watched the industry grown in “leaps and bounds” since 1980s.
Munetsi also commended the Nigerian government for its commitment towards providing infrastructure at the various airports across the country, saying the ongoing construction at Lagos, Abuja and other locations were commendable.
He said that the number of Nigerian professionals in the aviation sector globally, especially in the leadership of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), was an indication that the nation’s aviation was on track.
The airline official said that the headship of African Aviation Commission (AFCAC) by another Nigerian professional was a testimony to the quality, commitment and values that were driven by Nigerians in aviation industry.
“Nigeria has got such a vibrant aviation industry. I have been country manager here, I started the operation of the South African Airways in 1980, I have seen the country’s aviation grown in leaps and bounds.
“I think that Nigeria’s rating in terms of aviation is one of the success stories in terms of development in aviation.
“I see a lot of professionals from Nigeria; I interact with organisations like ICAO and AFCAC.
“In both organisations at senior level are Nigerians that are heading those organisations, which is testimony to the quality, commitment and the values that are driven by Nigerian coming through from Nigerian aviation industry.’’
Munetsi said the potential in the nation’s aviation industry was already being harnessed, adding that the current step being taken by the government would bring about more improvement in the sector.
According to him, when you develop your airports you attract traffic from other countries, you bring in airlines from almost everywhere in the world.
He stressed the need for the government to assist the domestic carriers in terms of attracting partnerships, relationships, joint ventures and commercial agreements to help them reduce operating costs.
“I think the potentials in the Nigerian aviation industry is already being harnessed because I am one person who believes that small step at a time will definitely lead to bigger things to come.
“If you develop your aviation industry and your brand is solid, now what happens is that the carriers that are here in Nigeria have to be engaged to see how much they can go further.’’
Munetsi said that the prospects of South African Airlines on Johannesburg-Abuja route were exceptionally good, adding that it had more than 78 passengers on its maiden flight to Abuja on Wednesday.
He said that the return flight back to Johannesburg had more than 92 passengers, which in effect represented over 60 per cent of its load factor.
According to him, SAA is working with Nigerian Government and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to strengthen the bilateral relation that had existed between South Africa and Nigeria.