Mr Musa Zwane, the Acting Group Chief Executive Officer of South African Airways (SAA), has expressed displeasure that non-African airlines provided the aviation needs of the African countries.
Zwane said this in Abuja at a dinner organised to mark the maiden direct flight of the airline on the Johannesburg-Abuja route.
He said that the aviation needs of the African continent should be met by African airlines.
“It is sad to note that Africa is served by non-African airlines; it is sad to note that many airlines have come up in Africa and have disappeared.
“What is it about us?, he asked, saying “that is the question that we need to ask and for many years to come, to say we, as Africans, need to learn to depend upon each other and relate with each other.
“I am very proud today to stand in front of you on behalf of our staff to announce the launch of Johannesburg-Abuja route and it is such a great present for us as we attain 82.
“We have flown here for 20 years and have seen the growth of the Nigerian market overtime, hence the decision to fly to Abuja.’’
Zwane pledged the airline’s commitment to connecting Africans in Africa and connecting Africa to the rest of the world through efficient service delivery.
He said that the airline, in its 82-year flying experience, had grown and expanded its operation to different parts of the world as one of the most successful airlines in Africa.
Also speaking, Dr John Tambi, a Board Member of the airline, said that Nigeria and South Africa, as two leading African countries, had no choice but to work together for the advancement of the continent.
Tambi said that the maiden flight from Johannesburg to Abuja was another milestone in the history of SAA and the beginning of many good things to come between Nigeria and South Africa.
He said that the state of the airline as the oldest and the safest in Africa, was a direct result of its resilience and the quality of people who work in the organisation.
“What we are doing here today is about relationships and today, we are really celebrating a relationship.
“The relationship between Nigeria and South Africa dates back to the time of Nigerian Airways and as the two leading economies in this continent, we must work together.’’
Tambi stressed the importance of building aviation as a developmental tool and not just a mode of transport, noting that Agenda 2053 of the African Union talked about African common airspace.
He said airport protection should be enhanced to promote regional integration and intra-Africa trade.
He said that SAA had started the implementation of the African strategy, adding that the launch of the flight is the manifestation of that strategy.
Meanwhile, Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of State for Aviation, who was represented at the occasion by Mr Hassan Musa, the Director of Air Transport, Ministry of Transportation, observed that virtually all African airlines had more than one entry point into Nigeria.
Sirika, therefore, said that Nigeria would work assiduously to ensure the integration of the African continent through aviation and other sectors. (NAN)