Commercial Director of Asky Airline, Nowel Ngala has said at least 66 per cent of routes in the region are still lacking in air connectivity, despite efforts at enforcing the open sky agreement among African countries.
According to guardian.ng, Ngala, made this disclosure in Lagos, saying it is still easier to travel around the world than within the continent.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari, among others at the 30th Ordinary Summit of the African Union Assembly of Heads of States and Government, held in Addis Ababa, in January 2018, signed the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) treaty to enable African airlines to fly without restrictions and change the narrative of Africa operating only two per cent of global air traffic. To date, 35 of 55 AU-member countries have signed up for SAATM.
Four years later, however, Ngala, said air connectivity remains a fundamental problem on the continent. At the opening of a new Asky ticketing office in Lagos, he noted that air travellers from the Central African Republic to Congo Kinshasa – a two-hour distance – have to fly the whole day, connecting through Lome to get to Kinshasa.
“There are several examples from Southern to Eastern and to Central Africa that is all still lacking in connectivity,” he said.
Ngala added that the existence of Asky was to improve on this connectivity, striving every day to ensure that Africans can travel from one city to the other in a day.
“But we cannot do this alone and we request the authorities to assist us with the traffic rights. Today, the African Union has initiated the SAATM to assist airlines and travellers to move easily from one city to the other. That is also our wish. We (Asky) have two entry points in Nigeria. Our wish is to add three more.
“Nigeria has seven international airports, there is no reason we should not as a pan-African airline fly to Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna and so on. This will enable connectivity for someone in Kano or Kaduna to fly to another big economic capital like Kumasi in Ghana. So, we fight every day for such connectivity to happen,” Ngala said.
Country Manager, Simon Mobolaji, added that the improved connectivity drive also motivated the Lome-based regional carrier to launch five new city ticket offices in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Ibadan.
Mobolaji said: “As part of our strategic re-engineering process following our success in the market since we commenced flights into Nigeria 12 years ago, we decided to get even closer to our customers by bringing our 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.”
He added that Asky is 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 12 years 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 is a pan-African airline operating in West and Central Africa. It is based in Lome, Togo, and connects over 25 destinations in 20 countries on the African continent with the most recent being Cape Verde with plans to commence flights into Sao Tome and Principe from October 15, 2022. The airline currently flies daily to Lagos and Abuja with plans to open more destinations in Nigeria shortly.