BRITISH Airways (BA) has agreed to enter into a partnership with the Nigerian government to develop the local aviation industry in a bid to end the ongoing spat between the two parties.
Over the last year, Nigerian aviation officials have been up in arms with BA over some its trading practices, including the exorbitant fares it charges between Nigeria and the UK and its royalties arrears. In a bid to resolve the ongoing dispute, Keith Williams, BA’s chief executive visited Nigeria and held a closed door meeting with vice president Namani Sambo.
After the meeting, Mr Williams describedNigeriaas an important market to BA, adding that the carrier had been operating inNigeriafor the past 76 years. He said Nigeria had huge domestic and international markets for the growth of the aviation industry and that his company would explore this market for the general good of both parties.
Mr Williams added: “The future of Nigeria and the transformation programme that it has to grow the economy is bright and British Airways, as an airline, supports the growth of that economy through air travels. So, as the Nigerian economy grows, British Airways will grow with Nigeria.
“If you look at BA, it has served Nigeria now for 76 years and we get a great partnership with Nigeria, which has been a long one and an important one and it will always continue to be an important one between the two countries and the British Airways supports that. There are lots of merger activities happening to support global growth in the airline industry and clearly, Nigeriais a huge important country with a huge population and important trade flows and the airlines need to support these trade flows whether that is through Nigeria airlines or international airlines.”
Mr Williams expressed satisfaction with the way and manner the country’s aviation sector was being managed, adding, however, that Nigeria needed to build its domestic and regional aviation industry. He described the ongoing merger activities between leading airlines worldwide as a welcome development for the global growth of the aviation industry.
In addition, Mr Williams gave an assurance that BA would continue to meet its socio-economic obligations toNigeriato further enhance its corporate responsibilities in the country. He did not comment on whether the airline would cut its London-to-Lagos fares as aviation minister Stella Oduah has been requesting.