Nigeria: How Culture, Tourism Stimulate Growth in Aviation

Abuja — DEVELOPMENT of culture and tourism products DSC_1442in a country is essential ingredients for the success of any national carrier. This was the submission of the Managing Director, International Services, Ethiopian Airline, Esayas Woldemariam Hailu. Speaking recently in Abuja, Hailu said the Ethiopian rich cultural heritage, presence of numerous tourism products including the existing nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country have greatly impacted business of the airline, which started operation in 1945.

With over 55 years of operation in Nigeria, the MD attested to the fact that Nigerian culture and tourism sector also has a lot to offer to the world irrespective of the country’s internal socio-political challenges. “In the past, Ethiopia has not been attracting tourists but since the Ministry was created, tourists’ arrival has 01NIJAincreased and there are lots of benefits. It is contributing greatly to the aviation sector. “Ethiopian airlines give tourists special package by reducing their fare and this way, we are also contributing to tourism development. ”Nigerian tourism sector has a lot to offer.

From every region, there are friendly people, the perception of people about Nigeria and security are completely different. The cultural diversity and others positive traits make the country endeared to many. The country’s problems are local and the nation will overcome them. Our experience about the country is positively different,” Hailu stated.

The MD also commented on the activities of the airline since 1960, when it debuted in Nigeria. According to him, Nigeria’s population is a boost to the success of the airline in the last 55 years. “Nigeria and Ethiopia share the largest population in Africa and that is a huge asset. The most valuable resource is the human resource and Ethiopia and Nigeria are endowed with this valuable resource. “For us in Ethiopian Airline, it has been 55 years of dependable and reliable service in Nigeria. Ethiopian Airline came to Nigeria in 1960 immediately after the Europeans left. “We have been here in good and bad times. Right now, Ethiopian Airline is not only the longest serving airline in Nigeria; we are also serving the most Nigerian routes. We now take off from four points; Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Enugu International Airports.

DSC_1452“We connect Nigeria with the rest of the world except Australia for now, with short connecting time. We are a Pan-African airline connecting 49 countries. We are the largest African network in the continent with six million passengers yearly”, says Hailu. The MD, however, regret that even though the airline currently serves 82 international destinations, 18 domestic routes and operate the newest and youngest fleets of an average age of seven years, the continent still lags behind in the aviation business as only about 80 per cent of African traffic is airlifted by non-African carriers. He however attributed the airline’s success to diligent management, prudence, wise leadership and operational autonomy. According to him, “these are the ingredients of a business that strives for success.

“We only present our score cards and performance to government; there is no interference. Year to year, we operate and make profit, finance our operations from our revenue. We are not just an airline; we are into cargo, maintenance, and repair and overhauling, ground services and aviation academy, in-flight catering services among others. We are a complete aviator”. “Our maintenance standard is very high with many back-up systems. With carefulness to aviation safety standards and corporation with security system, we hope for the better”. In his contribution, Traffic and Sales Manager, Mulugeta Zewdu, assured Nigerian passengers that in line with their aspirations, the airline was planning to serve Nigerian cuisines in-flight. “The airline has been customizing to meet customers expectations”, he added. A member of Star Alliance, Zewdu said the airline operates weekly flights of 1,330 segmented into 200 daily departures.

Culled from The Guardian.

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August 2014Edition 74

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