With a population of 1.2 billion Africa represents only less than three percent of the global air passenger traffic. The passenger traffic on intra-Africa routes is thin.
Air connectivity is underdeveloped. Passengers from Africa to travel to another African country may have to transit in European cities.
In the face of this, governments within the region are restricting flight rights; a situation that has completely made a mess of interconnectivity in the continent.
This gap is one that Asky Airlines is trying to fill as the carrier within its 12-year existence promoting regional integration, and tourism and providing the shortest and most comfortable transportation facility to the population at affordable fares to promote trade and development amongst states.
The Airline’s Commercial Director, Mr. Nowel Ngala, spoke to the media on Wednesday at the launch of the carrier’s new City Ticket Office located near the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. That brings to five new City Ticket Offices strategically located across four of the nation’s business capital cities. They include two offices in Lagos, and one each in Abuja, Port Harcourt, and Ibadan.
With these new offices coming online, Nigerians will be able to make their travel arrangements with ease in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial and business capital; Abuja, the seat of Government; Ibadan, one of the largest cities in Nigeria; and Port Harcourt which is the nation’s oil business capital, he concluded.”
Ngala lamented that about 66 percent of African routes are still not connected, stressing that a visit to the Central Africa Republic, Bangui, or Congo Kinshasa which ordinarily should take two hours but could leave passengers going round to Europe before connection.
He noted that connectivity from the Southern parts of Africa to the Eastern part and to the Central and all parts of Africa is still lacking.
He disclosed that the existence of ASKY with a hub in Lome, Togo is to improve connectivity, reiterating that Asky flies every day to ensure Africans traveling on the same day move from one city to the other.
His words, “This, we cannot do alone. We continue to request the authorities to assist us in this process to give us more traffic right. The Africa Union (AU) has initiated the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM) It is a very big move to assist airlines and to assist travelers to be able to connect and travel easily from one destination to the other”.
“We have multiple points in some countries. In Nigeria for example, we have two entry points; Lagos and Abuja. Our wish is to have three more entry points. Nigeria for example has seven international airports. There is no reason we should not fly as Pan African airline to Port-Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna, and so on. This will allow for connectivity and to improve on the connectivity”, said.
He added that ASKY was upgrading its services in the Nigerian market and looking to offer its customers more choices with increased frequencies and additional routes; “Hence the recent acquisition of our 12th aircraft to mark our twelfth year of successful operations since the airline was established.
“We strongly believe that together with our travel distribution and technology partners that are very strong home base travel operators that also believe in the Pan African renaissance with their current expansion across other markets outside Nigeria, it was time for us to establish this win-win long-lasting partnership that will further provide the necessary services to our customers.”
ASKY Airlines Country Manager, Simon Mobolaji said as part of the airline’s strategic re-engineering process following its success in the market since it commenced flights to Nigeria twelve years ago was to get even closer to its customers by bringing excellent customer service experience closer to them.
“We are marking the launch of the opening of these state-of-the-art offices across Nigeria today in partnership with our travel distribution and technology partners which are renowned for offering seamless travel services to Nigerians.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Wakanow, Bayo Adedeji extolled ASky for the giant strides it had taken to widen interconnectivity in West Africa and most parts of Africa from its hub in Lome, explaining the works his firm intends to do with the carrier to provide more connectivity.
“We introduced a visa on arrival in Cairo. The work we are going to be doing with ASKY; we are going to look at Sao Tome for instance. We are going to open up Sao Tome in another month or two. Sao Tome and Principe have some of the best beach lines in the world. When you look at the whole of Africa; interconnectivity is the problem. People are finding it difficult to interconnect. We have to go to the government to remove the barriers of entry”.
“We are going to launch pay small-small on Asky. That means that you can pay it like ajo or Esusu. I tell people that with N100, 000 they can travel and you can pay it over a year, six months whatever period that works for you”.