Lagos — The new face of flying was celebrated recently as Nigeria's Flag Carrier, Virgin Nigeria was voted Airline of the Year, 2006 at the glamorous 12th Annual THISDAY Awards ceremony held at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos. Virgin Nigeria was presented with the coveted trophy, beating the other three competing airlines that were also nominated. Dr. Yemi Osindero, the Chief Operating Officer received the trophy on behalf of Virgin Nigeria.
To ensure transparency in the selection process, the auditing and verification process for the awards was carried out by foremost international auditors, Price Water House Coopers. Amongst the criteria used to assess the nomination and select the eventual winner "were safety, size of network, on time performance and product offerings".
Commenting on the award, the CEO of Virgin Nigeria, Conrad Clifford said: it's gratifying that in only 20 months since the commencement of Virgin Nigeria operations, the airline has been voted as the airline of the year through a transparent process managed by the reputable firm of Price Water House Coopers.
"More importantly, Virgin Nigeria takes this award as a vote of confidence from our discerning customers. We are very grateful to them and we want to re-assure them that we will intensify our efforts at building a world class airline in Nigeria, the heart of Africa"
Continuing, Conrad said: "I speak for the whole board when I say how proud we are of our employees who have worked hard to realise this award".
"Our thanks also go to Leaders & Company, publishers of This Day Newspapers for their unique contribution to the growth of the aviation sector in Nigeria through the awards".
Virgin Nigeria's Airline of the Year award is coming on the heels of the nomination of Virgin Nigeria as one of the three best African carriers by the Association of South African Travel Agents (ASATA). The South African awards came last Friday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The ASATA awards are aimed at identifying service providers in the travel industry who offer the best service to travel agents and have been held for the last 16 years. About 2500 travel consultants were contacted via a telephone interview process conducted by the reputable firm of Grant Thorton from which the three nominated airlines, including VNA were selected.
With over 1,000 employees, Virgin Nigeria whose introduction was heralded by customers as the new face of flying, commenced operations about 20 months ago and currently flies from Lagos to twelve destinations on the domestic, regional and international routes. Virgin has resolved to pursue the following ideals:
- A World Class Airline from the heart of Africa
- Fun - Caring - Dependable - Passionate - Innovative
- Pay off line
- Touching the right spots
- Brand essence
- Combining the best of Nigeria with the best of Virgin
Virgin is the product of a 12 year search that includes ability to drive ational priority and strategic objective. It served also to fully establish private sector; limit the government's role/fundin. An international tender process carried out by FGN to secure international Technical Partner.
This process allowed for a Lock-in International expertise and rebuild Nigerian capacity to world class standards, meet international policies and standards and prove that new carrier is different: visible "new era". More especially, it was to develop "Lagos hub" as national priority. In 2005, the new flag carrier flies, after only nine months gestation
Some of the airline's current route network include three-weekly flights from Murtala Muhammed International Airport to London Heathrow. Virgin Nigeria also flies daily to London Gatwick and thrice weekly to Johannesburg, South Africa. Its other international flights includes those to Accra, Ghana (11 times a week); Douala, Cameroon (two times a week) and Dakar, Senegal (two times a week) on the regional routes
On the domestic route, Virgin Nigeria currently flies to Abuja (Eight times daily), Owerri (temporarily: three times daily), Kano (six times a week), Sokoto (three times a week) and Calabar (six times a week).
It achieves these demanding flight frequencies with a current fleet strength of nine modern aircraft (two damp-leased long haul and seven short haul)-A340 and A330 long haul aircraft. The Seven short haul aircraft in our fleet are dry-leased Nigerian registered B737-300s which have an all Nigerian cockpit and cabin crew
Virgin Nigeria has since become an active member of IATA (audited and approved in December 2005), flying the Nigerian flag in Ghana, Cameroon, Senegal, South Africa and United Kingdom. Its flight log has recorded an impressive over 1,000,000 passengers and 4,000 tons of freight carried safely and securely since launch.
One of the areas that it has made impact on the society is by giving employment over 1,000 Nigerians including A340-300 and B737-300 Captains and First Officers trained and operational. There are 200 Nigerian cabin crew trained and operational crop of dedicated Nigerian professional management and staff
It has also created indirect employment and ancillary industries at Lagos and Abuja hubs (hospitality, transportation and tourism).