Delta commits $1 billion to become first carbon neutral airline globally

Airline sets vision for meaningfully reducing emissions and advancing sustainability

ATLANTA, Feb. 14, 2020 – Starting March 1, 2020, Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) is committing $1 billion over the next 10 years on its journey to mitigate all emissions from its global business, going forward. The airline will invest in driving innovation, advancing clean air travel technologies, accelerating the reduction of carbon emissions and waste, and establishing new projects to mitigate the balance of emissions.
“There is no substitute for the power that travel has to connect people, which our world needs today more than ever before. As we connect customers around the globe, it is our responsibility to deliver on our promise to bring people together and ensure the utmost care for our environment,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO. “The time is now to accelerate our investments and establish an ambitious commitment that the entire Delta team will deliver.”

Delta’s approach to tackling carbon reduction and sustainability reflects the focus and rigor it has become known for, and that it used to build a financially secure airline. This announcement comes as Delta pays $1.6 billion in profit sharing to employees this Valentine’s Day, and reflects its long-standing approach to placing a high value on supporting all stakeholders and communities worldwide.

“There’s no challenge we face that is in greater need of innovation than environmental sustainability, and we know there is no single solution. We are digging deep into the issues, examining every corner of our business, engaging experts, building coalitions, fostering partnerships and driving innovation,” Bastian said. “We are on a journey, and though we don’t have all the answers today, we know that our scale, along with investments of time, talent and resources will bring meaningful impact to the planet and ensure the sustainability of our business for decades to come.”
The aviation industry accounts for roughly 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Delta’s carbon footprint is its largest environmental impact, with 98 percent of emissions coming from its aircraft. Here is how the company is focusing its efforts to become carbon neutral:
• Carbon reduction: Reducing Delta’s carbon footprint through enterprise-wide efforts to decrease the use of jet fuel and increase efficiency. Areas of focus include an ambitious fleet renewal program, improved flight operations, weight reduction, and increased development and use of sustainable aviation fuels.
• Carbon removal: Investing in innovative projects and technology to remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere that go beyond the airline’s current commitments, and investigating carbon removal opportunities through forestry, wetland restoration, grassland conservation, marine and soil capture, and other negative emissions technologies.
• Stakeholder engagement: Building coalitions with our employees, suppliers, global partners, customers, industry colleagues, investors and other stakeholders to advance carbon reduction and removal goals and maximize our global impact.

“When customers choose to fly Delta, they should feel they’re making a statement about taking care of our planet. Our commitment to carbon neutrality means flying with Delta represents far more than a great travel experience – it’s about joining arms to create a better world.”
Delta’s carbon strategy will account for emissions across its business – both in the air and on the ground. Delta’s investment will create new projects and methods to reduce its carbon footprint, benefit global communities and make it easier for other organizations to explore similar options to address their own carbon footprints – all while minimizing reliance on today’s limited carbon offset markets. To support this strategy, Delta will allocate some of its financial commitment into investment vehicles, including a dedicated fund focused on achieving its carbon neutral ambition.
Delta’s journey to carbon neutrality and its $1 billion investment build on its industry-leading voluntary sustainability efforts.

The Delta Environmental Sustainability Principles will guide the airline’s efforts to advance its path to carbon neutrality and its overall sustainability. They are:
• Action – Make progress continually by leveraging the tools of today even as we work to drive progress on a global scale. Embed environmental impact as a consideration in every business decision.
• Innovation – Investigate, enable and advance new projects, innovative technologies, and operational efficiencies to substantially reduce and mitigate emissions and our overall environmental footprint.
• Collaboration – Engage with employees, suppliers, global partners, customers, investors and other stakeholders with the understanding that environmental protection must be a shared goal.
• Evolution – Be nimble in evolving and adjusting in response to the latest scientific findings and technological developments.
• Transparency – Continue to publicly report on our goals and progress, aligned with leading disclosure frameworks and standards, and track efforts and achievements through our robust governance structure.

2020 will see a number of milestones that demonstrate Delta’s progress and commitment, and that Delta will share broadly as each of them launch. Powered by its 90,000 people around the world, Delta is the U.S. global airline leader in products, services, innovation, reliability and customer experience.

From being the first and only U.S. airline to voluntarily cap greenhouse gas emissions at 2012 levels, to adding more than 80 new aircraft in 2019 in an effort to renew its fleet with aircraft that are 25 percent more fuel efficient than the aircraft they are replacing, Delta has been undertaking a multi-year effort to achieve more sustainable air travel. As part of its commitment, Delta has partnered with industry innovators to advance the development and production of sustainable aviation fuels, including its recent partnership and offtake agreements with Northwest Advanced Bio-Fuels and Gevo. The airline also has partnered with the international advocacy organization Global Citizen on Global Goal Live: The Possible Dream event, to help reach United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on sustainability, gender equality and human capital.

Delta was the No. 1 airline named among America’s Most Sustainable Companies by Barron’s in 2020, and has been awarded the Vision for America Award by Keep America Beautiful and the Captain Planet Foundation’s Superhero Corporate Award. Delta has also earned a spot on the FTSE4Good Index for five consecutive years and the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index for nine consecutive years.

Apapa Area Customs Command Hits Highest Revenue Figure in the History of the Port – Says Comptroller Mohammed Abba-Kura.

by Damilola Hammed

A landmark achievement was recorded by the Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Area Command, with N413 billion generated in 2019, the highest in the history of the command’s operations. This figure is N41 billion above the projected N372 billion revenue target for the past year.
The Command’s Area Controller, Comptroller Mohammed Abba-Kura had told a news conference on 20th of December 2019 of the feat and the surpassing of the target even though the year had not ended.
As usual, Comptroller Abba-Kura had conducted journalists round the seizures made by the command in the outgoing year worth N12 billion.

A no-holds-barred interview by Inside Watch Africa (IWA) with the Area Controller is more revealing, and the following are excerpts of the one-on-one chat:

IWA: Nigeria is predominantly an importing and exporting nation, yet some people say doing import and export business in Nigeria seems to be problematic. Sir, what is your take on this?

Comptroller Abba-Kura: Let me start by saying that I do not agree with the assertion that import and export business is a problematic business in Nigeria. However, whatever business endeavour anyone desires to be involved in, it is compulsory that one should have very good knowledge of the laws that govern the business. Regrettably, I have over the years observed that most people, who go into import and export in Nigeria, go into it ignorantly. My advice for anyone that desires to go on this line of business either in Nigeria or in any other country for that matter, as it would be required in any other venture, is for such a person to first make enquiries and get sufficient information about the rules and regulations that guide whatever he or she wants to either import or export before jumping into the venture. It is only by so doing and strictly adhering to the rules and regulations that the person would be able to escape what I call “avoidable problems’’ in the course of importing into or exporting out of Nigeria.

IWA: Still on advice, what in your opinion should one do to become a successful customs officer? What are the salient things to be done?

Comptroller Abba-Kura: The customs job is essentially a very energetic one thus a Customs officer is generally expected to be up and doing and must possess the ability to face diverse challenges. One is constantly confronted with such challenges because of the nature of the job. The essence and practices of the Customs job is entrenched in global statues, treaties and laws, thus in order to be successful in primary duties of a Customs officer which entails trade facilitation, revenue collection and smuggling prevention, he or she should be willing to go the extra mile and get acquainted with all the relevant global statues, treaties and laws. Fortunately, the Nigeria Customs Service traditionally gives opportunity to its officers on regular basis to undergo on-the-job and off-the job trainings and courses in order to be properly equipped for the job as long as the officer is ready and willing to learn.

IWA: You are one of those officers who have had the privilege of undergoing many courses within and outside the country. Which of the courses do you consider the best and most rewarding?

Comptroller Abba-Kura: It is true that I have undergone a lot of courses within and outside the country on various topics and I must confess that I am really grateful to God for the opportunities that the Service had given me over the years in this regard. To answer your question directly, the course I have enjoyed most are the intelligence courses I attended at different times when I was in the Customs Intelligent Unit. The courses had exposed me to so many very instructive things about the job and about life generally. There was a particular course on risk assessment and management I attended for over a year which I consider all-encompassing as far as the Customs job is concerned. We did valuation, classification and also did non-intrusive examination. I must confess that even now as an Area Controller, I still draw from the knowledge and experiences I acquired on those intelligence courses.

IWA: Apapa port means different things to different people; to some it is just Africa’s premier port. Sir, as the Customs Area Controller of this port, how would you describe Apapa port?

Comptroller Abba-Kura: Apapa port is not just Africa’s premier port in the Maritime industry in Nigeria, Apapa port is the number one port and so much is expected of it particularly in the area of revenue collection, suppression of smuggling, and in many other areas. I must give kudos to my predecessors who had over the years raised the bar of excellent service delivery at this port.   However, since I became the Area Controller, we have continued to put structures in place that have seen us raising the bar much higher than my predecessors in all area of our performance. So far in the history of this port, we have generated the highest revenues and the figures are there for everyone to see. Understanding and realizing the pivotal role that human capital will play in our quest for success, we decided to take capacity building in this command very seriously. I am glad to inform you that we have finished the first phase of the training we organized in-house in the first week of November 2019 where we trained 350 officers.

IWA: This training that you mentioned organizing in-house for your officers sounds interesting, can you please tell us more about it?

Comptroller Abba-Kura: We took them in batches and the courses taught are as follow: classification, valuation, enforcement, examination, non-intrusive examination, risk management, fast-tracking, administration, Customs in the 21st Century, among others.

IWA: What is Customs in the 21st Century all about?

Comptroller Abba-Kura: The 21st Century Customs idea was introduced by the World Customs Organization (WCO) to essentially teach officers and get them ready for the eminent disruption that is already happening in the way things will be done in the Maritime industry globally, going forward.  As a responsible leader, I consider it pertinent to keep my officers abreast of the global goings-on in our industry because if the officers don’t know where we are and where we are going, they will lag behind. Let me also inform you that this capacity building training is not only for customs officers, we are extending the training to all the critical stakeholders in the industry so that all of us will be on the same page.

IWA: As customary with us in IWA, in your last word in this interview, you are allowed to and can say whatsoever you desire to say that we did not ask in the course of the interview?

Comptroller Abba-Kura: Going by the nature of my job, I am not expected to work on or base my judgement on rumours, hearsay or suppositions. So I will greatly appreciate it when people want to come forward with their complaints and do so with concrete evidence. I do not consider it fair for anyone to be judged or punished by mere rumours or suppositions. 

Having said this, my last word to the public will be, whatever the dealings they intend to have with the Customs Service, they should please try to always back it up with tenable and concrete evidence.

Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce Engages Lagos, Ogun Governors On Partnership for Economic Development

In furtherance of its quest and avowed commitment to economic development and trade growth between Nigeria and South Africa, the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce has taken another leap with the hosting of Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and Dapo Abiodun, MFR of Ogun State.

The occasion was the October edition of its monthly breakfast meeting held at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suits, Victoria Island, Lagos on October 31, 2019. Since its inauguration in 2000, the Chamber has initiated policies and programmes toward promoting commerce and other businesses between the two countries’

The event which was sponsored by Phillips Consulting, a leading professional service firm and chaired by Oba Otudeko, the patron of the chamber, brought together business leaders, industrialists, leaders of thought, scholars, experts and business journalists.

Clearly, the agenda was unmistakable — Lagos State, Nigeria’s economic capital and Africa’s fifth largest economy is faced with overpopulation and dearth of infrastructure.

The neighbouring Ogun State, is Nigeria’s emerging industrial hub which is blessed with abundant “unutilized’’ land mass and sprawling infrastructure and industries.

Going by the palpable excitement in the hall as well as the questions that Mr Folusho Philips, the Chairman of the chamber and Philip Consulting – sponsors of the event, who moderated the session asked the two governors, and by the brilliant answers given, no one present was left in doubt that the two states are set for business in an unusual manner.

The insightful questions and the contributions from attendees made the occasion a very fruitful and engaging one.

However, since it was a breakfast meeting that had the very time-conscious Oba Otudeko as its chair, the governors did not have enough time to share all the details of their robust plans and strategies.

It was very impressive though, that with such limited time, the governors were able to clearly show by their statements their appreciation of the strategic roles the partnership between the two states could play in the development of trade in Nigeria, and the peculiar circumstances that surround the fact that as states, they are sub-nationals lacking any federal powers, which obviously would limit the speed with which certain decisions could be taken. With this in mind, they had gone ahead to institute what they called the ‘Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission’.

The commission will be co-chaired by the Deputy Governors of both states. This they believe will help provide a proper framework that would ensure that the desired objectives are achieved and in good time too.

They also underscored the fact that their focus is on and around trade, investments and industry guided by three anchors: trade facilitation and agreements, ease of doing business; and the economic growth and well-being of their citizens.

From their submissions, it was obvious that they had given good considerations to sovereign governance and productivity around these anchors. 

No doubt, it is a good prism through which a fit-for-purpose conversation around sub-national productivity and economic well-being can be approached. Kudos to Governors Sanwo-Olu and Dapo Abiodun for their distinguished performance and outside the box approach to governance.

Bigbus Tours: The Perfect Introduction to The City – Shareena Ali, Head PR, Branding and Social Media

IWA: The first thing I will like to know is that in the past 23 years that your organization has been in business in four continents and about twenty-three cities around the world, what would you say are the main strategies that have given you the success you have achieved thus far?

SHAREENA: First, we operate in a highly competitive industry; there are lots of hop on, hop off sightseeing tour companies out there, but most of them are franchises and we are not a franchise. We are the world’s largest provider and privately-owned hop on, hop off sightseeing tour company and in the last four years what we have done is that we have consolidated all of our operations, all of our branding etc.  To make sure that we have a very tight operational model that can be transferable across cities where we operate, we have in the last 12 months launched out into Los Angeles, Berlin, Singapore and Dublin and we are able to very easily ensure the same high quality service, the same digital opportunities for customers and the same branding that we have in the other cities very quickly and give the same service and the sightseeing tour experience across all of our cities. This is something that the other sightseeing tour companies can’t do because as small franchise owners they are essentially working as small businesses, doing their own thing just under the licence brand of another competitor.

IWA: What are the new grounds that your organization is looking at breaking and conquering? What are the new frontiers?

SHAREENA: What we have done in the last few years is that we have dramatically increased the digital transformation in our industry. For sightseeing tour companies, hop on, hop off sightseeing tours, people don’t expect us to be very digital but what we have done is that we have a digital app where people can find out local city guides and also when they hop off they can track the next bus in real-time.  We also have a very consistent operating model where people can come on board and scan their tickets; they don’t have to wait and queue to have their tickets scanned. These are the things that none of our competitors are doing, so in the world of hop on, hop off sightseeing tour we can be regarded as the cutting edges innovators; something we have over the years continued to do in all the cities where we operate.

IWA: This is interesting to know because usually when you look at certain businesses, most often people kind of get very settled into the things they have always done. So it is good to know that your organization has decided take a lot of innovative steps in the way you do things. So if you were to describe the tourism industry in the UK specifically, and in the whole of Europe generally, how would you describe it?

SHAREENA: I think it is very mixed; it depends on season. We have got 23 cities, and London is one of our core cities; we also have three other core cities — New York, London and Paris, and obviously our high season is in Summer because it is warm as you know we are all about open top sightseeing and people want to see the landmarks and have the history of these landmarks told to them. The best way to do so is to have our tour guides telling the people about the cities and the landmarks so they can then hop off and explore. In London, 50 percent of our customers are American – actually African-Americans and Caucasian-Americans constituting this consistent 50 percent, while the other 50 percent being a mixture whose relative percentages vary depending on the season. For example, during Chinese New Year or Golden Week, we will have more Chinese or during Australian half term we will have more Australians so it really depends on the season and also the public holidays that different countries that are our clients observe.

IWA: So if you were to judge or rely on the various kinds of feedback you have received over the years, what are those feedbacks that have kept recurring over the years, and do you see them pointers to the fact that you are doing well?

SHAREENA: I think it is the fact that we have very strong trade partnerships. Recently we had Expedia, we have Tripod visa and All of these are our trade partners. Last year, we also signed up with one of the biggest Chinese and Asian traveller’s app as one of our trade partners to sell our tickets via their platforms and the fact that these international trade partners are very keen to sell tickets is a key success for us and KPI as well.

IWA: It is very obvious that your organization appears to be very successful. However, what are those things that you consider as downtime, things that you feel as an organization you still need to work on?

SHAREENA: I think it is more of a perception issue because we are in a very competitive market and people are not as professional as they should be, except for very few establishments like us that take professionalism seriously. Therefore, when people start seeing many tour companies doing things in an inappropriate way we also get tarnished for the same issue. What we usually do is we play up our professionalism and this usually helps to fix the issues.

IWA: Are the youths part of your target market, if they are, do you have a dedicated product for them or how are you dealing with them?

SHAREENA: I am the global Head of PR, branding and social media, so the youths are my direct responsibility and target. They are the reason we are big on our social media platforms, mainly on Facebook and Instagram. On our social media platforms, we highlight the fact that we give you the perfect introduction to the city, by not only giving you an overview of all of the key landmarks to visit, but also giving you the history so that you can hop off and explore. Or where can it be better to take the perfect Instagram picture than in an open top bus where everyone can see you in the city with the landmarks behind you? However, I must confess that the youths are not our key customers, we have solo travellers, families, mission planners, and people who plan in advance and independent explorers. But millennials can be solo travellers and independent explorers and so for me they are part of our target and the best way to capture them is by showing how 23 cities formed the perspective of the customer who is uploading their images on social platforms.

IWA: How do you manage your loyal customers?

SHAREENA: We actually have multiple channels for selling our tickets, we sell our tickets via hotel concierges, via third parties like etc. and we have on the street sales. People tend to buy our tickets spontaneously when they come into the hotel or when we are on the street, so I can’t really say that we have a high percentage of loyal customers because it is whoever is selling. Obviously we have the opportunity to sell because we have got a strong brand but we believe when people have had great customer service from us and a great touring experience they want to go back on another tour in another city and that way we keep them on board by giving them great offers etc. via our CRM. We have newsletters where they get special discounts and we always have 10 per cent online booking discounts compared to street sales and when they sign up to our loyalty newsletter they get fare discounts.

IWA: How do you deal with sustainability? I am talking about health. I know that all over the world in the tourism industry, it has become a very big issue for people to look at health and all of that. As an organization do you have a corporate plan to deal with the health concerns of your clients?

SHAREENA: Yes, we have quite a few campaigns that we are collaborating with other organizations. For example, in Westminster, in London, we are collaborating with the Westminster Council to join their campaign called “Don’t be Idle”. It is a campaign where Westminster Council encourages people not to have their car engines running when they are at the traffic light point. As a bus company, we are a moving billboard so when cars see we are highlighting this campaign, it is another reminder that they should not have it on because it affects peoples’ lungs because of the air quality. So we also do not keep the engines running at the traffic light points as we switch them off. This is a big step towards air quality and helping with breathing problems when it comes to the traffic pollution. In Dubai, another city of ours, we actually use bio fuel which is a sustainable source of fuel and made from palm oil etc. So we have different campaigns and projects depending on the cities and what is available to us and we also have multiple electric vehicles, buses in Paris, in Washington which again goes a long step away from diesel buses.

IWA: On a final note, what are the key messages that you would like to pass to those who might be seeing this all over the world?

SHAREENA: I think people do not really understand what hop on, hop off sightseeing tour experience entails. What it entails is that if you come into a city and you choose to do a hop on, hop off sightseeing tour, the first thing is that you will get the perfect introduction to the city, you will get your bearings right, you will know how to plan the rest of your short period in that city in the very best way possible because not only are we giving you an overview of the city, our amazing tour guides also give you the history and the knowledge, not minding the fact that they also know the best places to have the best cocktails and the best food in that city. So you have got a local individual who has all the top tips of the city which they can give to you; so it is the perfect introduction to the city.


…BA is peerless, it’s my airline any day, say decade-long patrons – By Oluwaseyi Adeyemo

With nostalgia, I recall growing up in my neighbourhood in Obanikoro, Lagos, Nigeria, how spending summer in London was a must for virtually every household that had the means. Shortly before and after summer, the tales of plans to spend and how summer was spent in London was usually everywhere to the extent that some of us that our parents could not afford to take us to London for summer were able to feign it, and tell stories of summer in London to our other friends from other neighbourhoods as if we were London Summer vacationers.

So striking and profound were their relayed experiences on British Airways (BA) that one was tempted to believe that BA was the only airline flying Nigeria to London and London to Nigeria at that time. Therefore, flying to London on BA became top on my bucket list early in life and I had eagerly looked forward to my very first experience on BA. Let me expressly say without exaggerating that from the first time I flew British Airways to my latest trip on the airline early December 2019, just before I started writing this piece, my experiences have been that of extreme satisfaction laced with spectacular pleasure.  Thanks to the excellent services they provide on board, they make one feel like a ‘King’, a `Noble’, who a customer truly is.

Going by the assertions made, it is therefore my belief that there are definitely lots of reasons for cheers and accolades as British Airways celebrates a centenary in the world’s aviation industry. Undoubtedly, to record a century of safe flying is no mean feat, and what many may not know is that the air transportation company had undergone so many metamorphoses over the years which encompass strategic alignments and realignments, mergers and acquisitions, downturns and consolidations, disappointments and partnerships, losses and gains, and much more to get to where it is today.

In trying to put this piece together and looking through the press statement made by Alex Cruz, British Airways Chairman and CEO on Sunday, 25th August 2019, which marked the 100th anniversary of the airline, the aspect of it which caught my fancy was when he said: “We wouldn’t be here without their pioneering spirits and sense of adventure. From that first customer who flew from Hounslow Heath to Paris on 25 August 1919 in a single engine De Havilland DH4A to the millions who choose to fly with us every year on more than 800flights a day to 200 destinations around the globe”.

This profound statement expressly validates my conviction of British Airways being an organization that is strongly attached to its history and with a corporate vision that is tied around people (its customers and staff).

On a couple of occasions, I have had the opportunity of visiting the British Airways Museum which is called Speedbird Heritage Centre, situated at Waterside Speedbird Way Middlesex, right smack at the centre of British Corporate Headquarters in London, and every visit that I have made to the centre has always been very insightful and breathtaking for me. I truly do not have the right words to describe how enchanted I always feel seeing how well they have persevered British Airways Heritage collections. The collection comprises records and artifacts from BA’s history, including uniforms, aircrafts models and pictures that unambiguously tell the story of the formation, development and operations of the airline from when it was British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) to British European Airways (BEA), then from British South American Airways (BSAA) to the pre-war Imperial Airways Limited, and now the British Airways Ltd. 

The Speedbird Heritage Centre is managed by three great men; Jim Davies, Geoff Perry and Derek Young, all of whom retired from the British Airways several years ago but decided at some point in time to be part of the team that manages the centre as volunteers. Going by how passionately and diligently they took me through the essence of the centre on my recent visit, the fact that these men have a great sense of history, love and commitment to British Airways is indisputable and admirable. I asked Jim and Geoff, what they both think is responsible for the 100-year success story of BA and this is what they said. According to Jim, the first reason in his opinion is the fact that almost every member of staff, if not everyone is aware of the history of excellence that the airline had been known for, and that this history must be sustained. He said that the management of BA had actually taken advantage of the commemoration of BA’s 100 years this year to amplify its history of excellence.

The second reason he adduced is that British Airways as a corporate body understands that they are into a very competitive line of business, in which the customer is constantly exposed to a variety of options, thus they are constantly reinventing to ensure that the customers are exceptionally satisfied at all times.

Geoff, on his part, chose to use a football analogy; he said each football team is expected to have excellent team members while the best teams in addition to having excellent team members, would also have very good captains and very good managers; thus in his opinion, the formation of the best teams is a winning trait that the British Airways has had since he joined them in 1974.

They have always had very good management teams in BA, teams who had ensured that every member of staff is made to fully imbibe the “corporate ideology of the excellent service delivery’’ that has seen the organization succeeding to become an industry leader for 100 years.

On my return to Nigeria, I asked British Airways’ Regional Commercial Manager, West Africa, Mr. Kola Olayinka, how British Airways was faring in Nigeria and he said; “as a carrier, we offer our 145,000 customers that fly us on a daily basis quality, choice and convenience. We also fly to more than 200 destinations in 80 countries across the globe, from our home base at Heathrow, London, which is arguably world’s busiest international airport. Therefore, it is safe to say that our operational strategies and actions are based on a very robust foundation. In the past more than 80 eventful years that British Airways has operated from Nigeria, we can confidently say without sounding immodest that British Airways is clearly the leading airline in Nigeria. We have a large and very loyal customer base in Nigeria as we fly our 747 from Lagos – the economic capital of Nigeria and our 777 from Abuja – the political capital and seat of Government daily to London and various destinations across the globe. As part of the many things we do to inspire our frequent fliers, we recently introduced what we called ‘On Business’ loyalty programme’, which is dedicated to promoting business growth by awarding ‘On Business’ points to them each time a member of their company travels. Points can be spent on reward flights or a cabin upgrade”.

As an attestation to the first-class and world-class service of BA, I decided to take the testimonies of some regular and traditional patrons of the airline in Nigeria.
An air traveller for several decades, Mr Tunde Arogunmati, the Executive Director African Incentive Partnerships and Associate Director, Ben Enwonwu Foundation, said: “My relationship with British Airways over a number of decades has been a consistent experience with top class comprehensive civil aviation service delivery.

“In a personal sense, BA’s fanatical attitude towards safety, security and all-round technical support gives me a high level of confidence in travelling with them anywhere their vast network covers, notably as London is also a frequent business destination within my usual schedule.

“In a corporate sense, BA has over the years been a major league corporate social investor in the operations of the likes of the Nigerian Association of Tour Operators & the Nigeria-Britain Association, both of which I have held the position of President in, at various points in time. It is easy, therefore, to understand why, with over a century of operating on the frontlines of the global aviation industry, BA holds her pride of place at the forefront of modern aviation development and is the preferred choice of a plurality of premium Nigerian air travellers and corporate organisations.

“With a huge sense of gratitude, I would like to seize this opportunity to formally congratulate British Airways on the attainment of the first century mark and wish the entire corporation the best of success in the decades and centuries to come.’’

For Mrs Titilola Oladejo, the Chief Operating Officer of Assets & Resources Management Holding Company (ARM Holdco), a frequent flyer with BA: “The British Airways Club World has offered the most exciting flying experience compared to other airlines.

“Booking for a flight is easy and up to date information is provided on the airline’s portal regularly. Booking hotels and car rentals with my miles also happens seamlessly. From the very fast airport check-in where the ground crew at dedicated check-in desks assist you until you board the aircraft, to the spacious and comfortable lounges and the fast track immigration procedure in Heathrow and New York JFK, the overall experience is top notch, a deep, favourable and pleasurable impression!

“The lounges have a variety of delicious dining options, drinks, showers, and a spa. At Heathrow and JFK airports, I always plan to arrive well ahead of my flights to indulge in the luxury spa treatment from Elemis, a skincare and spa brand that I got hooked on because of its friendly effect on my skin.

“The Club World cabin has a privacy partition between seats which enables you sleep in comfort without disturbance from other travelers in the cabin. The décor is pleasant to the eye with white colored cabin walls that beautifully and elegantly contrast with the blue, specifically designed to create an atmosphere of well-being and relaxation, a home-away-from-home luxury,’’ she said.

I must not forget to mention the menu that offers interesting choices from a wide selection of drinks and food. The drinks particularly contain very comprehensive information on the variety of spirits and wines available, unlike what it is with most other airlines. Also varieties from a very wide selection of breads and snacks are available throughout the flight. Above all, is the very warm, friendly and most professional service by the in-cabin crew….it is indeed super lavish and impressive!

The British Airways experience is one that I cannot but continue to relish every minute of the trip and what that leaves me with is the crave to have it again and again”.

The experience of a sick passenger flown on BA from Lagos to London is equally captivating and striking. Lagos-based Mr. Peter Damian Ejiofor, who titled his testimonial, “Memoirs of a sick passenger,’’ said in March 2014, he departed Nigeria aboard a British Airways flight for medical treatment in the United Kingdom.

Savouring his first time experience, he said: “From the point of boarding in Lagos to checking out in London, the experience was of “`courtesy, comfort and care’’.

“The comfort in the flight makes one feel you are not in the air. The pilots fly smoothly and to the like of every passenger. The convenience which I used while the flight lasted was something to behold.

“The crew was friendly, caring for the comfort of their passengers and they also made sure everyone was satisfied with their good cuisine and quality drinks.’’

Etching that flight experience in his memory, Ejiofor, rates their services as second to none, saying: “Since I had a return ticket, my wife and I felt the experience while returning was better than when we were going, showing that the airline continuously seeks ways to satisfy their passengers.

“British Airways keep what you have been doing in the last century up as I rate you high. Bravo!’’ He also added

Another patron of the British Airways, Mr. Adeleye Ajayi, also relived his first experience of travelling on British Airways, precisely on November 1, 2008.

His trip to London was primarily to be at the Thomas Reuters Building at 30 South Collonade Canary Wharf, London, for a Reuters Foundation Programme for two weeks. As a senior journalist, BA took him there and back after attending a course in Business News Writing which commenced on November 3.

His words: “I had planned to arrive at London (Heathrow Airport) early morning on November 2, 2008. In essence, my ultimate target was that a 48-hour time lag before the programme would be enough. The flight took off from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 23.30 local Nigerian time.

“I vividly remembered that the flight which took off at the specified time had hundreds of passengers on board. The direct flight which lasted about six hours was hitch-free and make bold to say that my journey was very enjoyable and entertaining.’’  According to Ajayi, the cabin crew was very courteous and efficient while attending to his every need and those of the other passengers.

“I have since then travelled several times with BA and also with several other airlines and found British Airways to be the best of the whole lot. Being very comfortable, safe and balanced in the air, I would not have any hesitation in recommending BA to other travelers’’

Brief History of British Airways

Since British Airways is very particular about its history, I consider it expedient to take a peek into its rich history. The birth of British Airways started in 1919 when the Department of Civil Aviation was formed at the Air Ministry with Winston Churchill appointed as Secretary of State for Air and in June, oversaw the first direct crossing of the North Atlantic by air which took place in a Vickers Vimy airplane from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland to Clifden, Ireland in 15hrs 57mins. However, the world’s first scheduled international service took place in August when single-engine De Havilland DH4A G-EAJC of Air Transport and Travel flew from Hounslow Heath, Middlesex to Paris carrying one passenger, a consignment of leather, several braces of grouse and some jars of Devonshire cream. By November of the same year, Air Transport and Travel carried the first international airmail to Paris. The first flight was by DH4A G-EAHF and an Air Mail pennant was attached to its rudder.

By February 1921, all British airlines ceased operations due to subsidized European competition but Handley Page Transport operated the first subsidized London to Paris service in March due to the grant of a temporary government subsidy. The company carried 79 passengers in one day.

In 1924, Imperial Airways was formed and it took over the fleets of the Instone Airline Limited, the Daimler Airway, Handley Page Transport Limited, and British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd, following the recommendations of the Hambling Committee about the future of British air services. The new airline became the “chosen instrument” of the British government with the mission of developing British commercial air transport on an economic basis.

With a comfortable recognizable airliner cabin, a steward, a four-course luncheon and a bar service, Imperial Airways’ Armstrong Whitworth Argosy flight took 2 hours 30 minutes to Paris in 1927 and it was regarded as a notable breakthrough in terms of comfort and service. Imperial Airways completed its first 10,000,000 miles of flying on 18th February 1933.

British Airways Limited was formed on 1st January 1936 from United Airways, Hillman’s Airways, and Spartan Airlines. On 11th November 1938, the British government announced its intention to merge Imperial Airways and British Airways Limited to form a single chosen instrument – the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The necessary Bill received Royal Assent on 4th August 1939, just before the commencement of World War II. The Corporation was eventually established under the BOAC Act on 24th November 1939 and by 1st April 1940, BOAC officially took over the operations of Imperial Airways and British Airways Limited.

On 1st August 1946, British European Airways Corporation (BEA) took over the services operated by the British European Airways Division of BOAC operating short-haul routes from Northolt. British South American Airways (BSAA) was merged with BOAC on 30th July 1949 and a tripartite partnership between BOAC, Air India, and Qantas was formed on 1st April 1960. The British Airways Group was established on 1st September 1972, which eventually resulted in BOAC and BEA being dissolved on 31st March 1974 upon the formation of British Airways.

After the election of a Conservative government in May 1979, it was declared that BA would no longer receive any state support or interference in its commercial decision making and in July, the government’s intention to go ahead with the privatization was announced but this was delayed with the recession which soon plunged BA into massive losses. Four years on, the airline survived the recession and became the British Airways Plc., on 1st April 1984. Three years afterward, it was finally privatized in a hugely oversubscribed flotation. Over one million applications were received for shares, offered at 125p, making the offer 11 times oversubscribed. Trading in British Airways shares began on 11th February 1987.

In March 1989, the airline introduced its new First Class service and in April 1992, Deutsche BA – the company formed by a consortium of German banks and British Airways, announced the acquisition of the German regional airline, Delta Air. A decade later, the ONEWORLD alliance came into effect on 1st February 1999 after British Airways, together with four other international airlines, announced the new alliance the previous year. The alliance was formed to launch a wide range of initiatives designed to provide greater customer benefits, including more information and support, greater value and increased opportunities for rewards and recognition. Another decade later, precisely January 2009, the alliance became the first in the travel industry to sell multi-airline round-the-world tickets online.

British Airways’ Foot Prints in West Africa:

Unambiguously, the development of aviation in the British West African Territory dates back as far as 1944 when, following World War II, Lord Swinton ordered the first studies. The British Ministry of Civil Aviation supported the Sanford Committee, which was established to that particular end, and both entities recommended the formation of the West African Air Transport Authority. The order-in-council enacting the formation of the West African Air Transport Authority (ATA) was signed by King George VI on 15 May 1946. This led to the establishment of what was known as the West African Airways Corporation (WAAC) in 1946 by the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), and economically supported by four West African British colonies, Nigeria being the major shareholder (68%), followed by the Gold Coast (29.5%), Sierra Leone (2%), and The Gambia holding the balance. WAAC began operations in October 1947, following the delivery of its first aircraft, an event that took place on 14th September 1947. The De Havilland Dove aircraft inaugurated WAAC’s first scheduled service from Lagos to Calabar in October 1947.

The company was aimed at providing the British West Africa with air transport facilities, connecting it with Dakar and Khartoum in order to provide passengers with a gateway to the Americas and the Middle East, respectively, and to operating feeder flights that connected with the Europe-bound BOAC Hermes services at Accra, Lagos and Kano. The close ties with BOAC were evidenced by the fact that WAAC actually acted as an agent for the British state carrier in Nigeria and the Gold Coast.

However, as the member states gained Commonwealth status from the United Kingdom, they set up their own carriers—Ghana Airways, Sierra Leone Airways, and Gambia Air Shuttle. WAAC was formally dissolved in 1958, as Nigeria was the only state eventually having a participation in the airline. WAAC assets and liabilities were inherited by WAAC (Nigeria) that operated as “Nigerian Airways” from 1 October 1958. WAAC (Nigeria) was later re-branded Nigeria Airways.

Millennial Awards and Recognition

British Airways has always been in the position to amass lots of awards and recognition based on its impeccable services, exceptional customer relations, high industry standards and latest technological innovations.

In 2001, it won the prestigious Grand Prix award for International Design Effectiveness for the new Club World seat which turned into a six-foot full-fledged flatbed. The award was given in recognition of how the product had revolutionized business travel. The seat also won the best consumer product award.

In June 2003, it was named as the “best low-cost airline” in an annual Guardian newspaper poll.

In 2006, it swept the board at the prestigious Business Traveller Awards ceremony at the London Hilton Hotel, winning the trophies for Best Airline, Best Short-haul Airline, Best Frequent Flyer Programme, Best First Class, Best Long-haul airline and Best Economy Class.

In May 2009, it was named Best Business Class, Best First Class and Best Short-haul Airline at the 2009 Ultratravel Awards.

On 4th December 2012, it won both Best Short Haul and Best Long Haul categories in the Sunday Times Travel Magazine Reader’s Awards.

 In May 2013, it won an award for its Home Advantage campaign run during British Airways sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics. This was at the Marketing Week Engage Award In the ‘Travel and Leisure’ category on 22nd May.

In February 2014, it was named as Consumer Super brand of the Year. The airline was the first airline or travel enterprise to top this poll beating well known global brands such as Coca-Cola, Apple, and Kellogg.

In January 2015, it was voted favourite airline in the 2015 Travel Weekly Globe Awards. The following month, it was named as both the UK’s number one Consumer Super brand and also the number one Business Super brand, thus becoming only the second company to top both polls at the same time. The month after the double recognition, it was ranked in the top three most attractive employers in Britain following a survey of a recruitment agency of nearly 11,000 employees in 26 industries and in November of the same year, it won the Best Short-Haul carrier, Frequent Flyer Programme and Lounges at the Business Traveller Awards.

In January 2016, it was voted favourite airline in the 2016 Travel Weekly Globe Awards, and in February of the same year, it was named the UK’s No 1 Consumer and Business Superbrand 2016, having topped the Consumer list for the last three years and the Business list for the last two.

Air France, KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic Launch World’s Leading Partnership

Customers benefit from more destinations and ways
to earn and spend frequent flyer points

PARIS, AMSTERDAM, ATLANTA and LONDON: 3 February 2020 – Air France, KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have launched their expanded joint venture offering a greater choice of routes and loyalty options when travelling between Europe, the U.K. and North America.

The new partnership provides customers with more convenient flight schedules and a shared goal of ensuring a smooth and consistent travel experience, whichever airline people fly. The partnership also provides the flexibility to book flights on any of the four carriers through their respective mobile apps, websites, or via travel agents. Customers will enjoy award-winning service, top-tier premium cabin products and complimentary food, drink and seat-back in-flight entertainment in all cabins on all trans-Atlantic flights.
Enhanced customer benefits starting from 13 February mean that loyalty programme members will be able to earn and use miles or enjoy elite benefits for flights on any of the four airlines’ worldwide operations, including a trans-Atlantic trip, intra-Europe hops, or domestic U.S. journey, offering more opportunities to quickly move through loyalty tiers and reach a higher status. Eligible Elite loyalty programme members can also enjoy priority boarding and relax in over 100 airport lounges when travelling internationally.

Other highlights include:
● Up to 341 peak daily trans-Atlantic services, covering the top 10 routes on a nonstop basis
● Onward connections to 238 cities in North America, 98 in continental Europe and 16 in the UK
● A choice of 110 nonstop trans-Atlantic routes

The enhanced network is also fully available to cargo customers and is built around the carriers’ hubs in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York-JFK, Paris, Seattle and Salt Lake City. It creates convenient nonstop or one-stop connections to every corner of North America, Europe and the U.K..

Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said: “Customers are at the heart of this expanded joint venture with our partners Delta, Air France and KLM, where seamless connections, a greater range of flights, unrivalled customer service and increased frequent flyer benefits will reinforce its position as the choice passengers most love to fly. One of the pillars of our strategy is successfully collaborating with our partners. Combining our strengths, our network, and our people allows us to achieve more together.”

The customer benefits effective this month are just the start, with more initiatives being rolled out later this year such as the launch of more codeshare routes, aligning schedules to reduce connection times and smoothing the airport experience from check-in to baggage claim. Customers will also soon be able to check-in and select their seat through any of the partner airline mobile apps or websites.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian commented: “Our expanded partnership is a major step forward for all of our airlines as we deliver greater reliability, top travel benefits and leading service that our customers deserve. Today’s launch brings our historic, longstanding collaboration to a new level as we continue to build the partnership of choice across Europe and North America that sets us apart from the rest of the industry.”

“Ten years after starting our joint venture with Delta, this new agreement is a major milestone that will even further reinforce our presence on the Atlantic, by allowing our passengers the choice between four major airlines combining their network for the benefit of our customers,” said Air France-KLM Group CEO Benjamin Smith. “For Air France–KLM, it also means greater access to the U.K. market and especially London Heathrow, the leading global travel market.”

Other key facts and figures on the expanded joint venture:
• The JV represents approximately 23 per cent of total passenger and cargo trans-Atlantic capacity
• Combined annual revenues of the JV are estimated at US$13 billion
• Over 180,000 employees work across Air France, KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic