South African Airways describes first year a success on its Accra/Washington DC route

The Country Director of South African Airways, Mrs Gloria Yirenkyi, has described the first year of the airline’s exclusive flights from Africa to Washington DC as a major success with continuous growth in passenger numbers.

“It’s been one year and still flying high” she said and added that “SAA’s new route between Accra and Washington DC has proven to be very popular with Ghanaian travellers to the United States of America and, especially the West Coast of the USA due to the convenient onward connections offered on SAA’s partner carriers from Washington Dulles international Airport.”

Mrs Yirenkyi said this in an exclusive interview in Port Louis, Mauritius, on August 13, on the sidelines of a special tour of that cosmopolitan island described as a pot of cultures made up of different customs and traditions of settlers from Europe, China, India,  and Africa over the past hundred years.

The tour was to afford key travel and tour agencies in Ghana and  select media organisations, including Graphic Communications Groups Group Limited represented by its flagship financial newspaper, GRAPHIC BUSINESS, the biggest selling financial newspaper in the country, to visit major tourist sites and luxurious hotels strategically scattered on the Island.

Response from passengers

Mrs Yirenkyi said the experience of the airline by passengers on the Accra/Washington route had confirmed the resolve of South African Airways resolve to link people across the world.

“We have received an overwhelming response from travellers over the past year about the convenience of overnight flight schedules and reliability, competitive fares and legendary on board and cabin service,” she said.

Mrs Yirenkyi said “The direct service linking Accra to a second gateway in North America provides more travel options to the market and we anticipate that this route will add considerable opportunities for the growth of tourism and trade relations between Ghana and the United States of America,”

Passenger numbers

Mrs Yirenkyi said in one year, there had been 210 flight departures from Accra  to Washington DC, carrying over 19,320

Passengers on that route

That, she said, represented about 30 per cent of total passengers flown on the SAA network.

On the feedback from passengers as far as their experiences were concerned and whether the airline was seeing a lot of repeat patronage from customers, Mrs Yirenkyi said “Their expectations in terms of service, on-time departures, baggage delivery, ground staff interactions and support have been met and exceeded in most cases.”

However, she noted that the airline was working continuously to exceed customer experience and expectations to increase their confidence to use the services of the airline to connect from Accra to the rest of the world.

Impact of Ebola

South African Airways launched its Accra/Washington route at the peak of the deadly Ebola virus that rocked and severely dented the image of the West African sub region. The disease seriously affected Liberia and Sierra Leone and Nigeria which was fast stopped after a few deaths.

Many passengers, who used the sub region as a transit points to other African countries and the islands in the Indian Ocean, had to reroute for fear of attracting the Ebola virus.

However, Mrs Yirenkyi, said the airline had to strategise to keep the route alive and to boost the confidence of travellers.

“Initial projections and expectations for Connecting Traffic from Liberia and Sierra Leone were not met, however, there was  considerable traffic  from neighbouring  La Cote d’ Ivoire , Togo , Benin and Nigeria that came through in addition to the originating traffic from Ghana,” she said.

Mrs Yirenkyi noted that with the improvement of the health conditions, connecting traffic from Liberia and Sierra Leone is increasing in numbers and expressed the hope that efforts to ensure that the deadly disease did not recur in the region and the continent as a whole would be sustained in the interest of the industry and the economies as a whole.

Writers email: [email protected]

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