“We will not get into anything that will be of risk to our clients or the airline”
-Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines
The Abuja retreat for Station Managers of United Nigeria Airlines is re-energising the company towards effective value addition for effective service delivery and greater customer satisfaction writes Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu
A retreat for its station managers of United Nigeria Airlines limited has ended in Abuja with a resolve by official of the airline to double effort to set the rules for its competitors.
The retreat, which is the second in the airline’s annual management and Station managers retreat series, held at The Dome on Adekunle Fajuyi Street in Abuja’s central business district, and attracted station managers of the airlines from airports in Lagos, Abuja, Warri, Port Harcourt, Owerri, Yenagoa, Enugu, Asaba and Umueri in Anambra state where the airline currently services.
Also present at the retreat include the Chief Operating Officer, Engr. Osita Okonkwo and Director of Administration, Chief Linus Awute alongside other officials of the airline.
Themed ‘positioning United Nigeria for economic benefit for value creation and retention’, the retreat was sequel to an earlier one in January 2023 when senior managers of the company gathered to brainstorm on streamlining operations of the airline and make them more effective for the good of its customers.
The Station Managers Retreat also focused on creating more value for its customers in the same manner that the Management Retreat did.
During the retreat, Station Managers were taken through the intricacies of management for effective value creation and retention. The focus was on the need to create a more customer friendly environment that would retain customers and add to the growth of the airline, which celebrated its two years of operations in February 2023.
Promising that the airline will remain focused on its safety credentials so as to ensure that it’s flying public travel in safety and comfort, Chairman of the company, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, said while addressing the retreat that “we will not get into anything that will be of risk to our clients or the airline”.
Addressing the retreat, the Director of Administration, Awute, stressed the need for the Station Manager to retain full control of operations of the business units. He tasked them with the challenge of delivering on customer satisfaction through improving their business units and ensuring also that the company makes the most of its investment.
He also harped on the need for operatives of the airlines to ensure total elimination of issues that lead to flight delays adding that “everyone is aware that there are issues beyond your control like presidential movements, weather and issues, unscheduled aircraft maintenance and lack of facilities that regularly lead to flight delays and, or, cancellation; but you must be in full control to ensure that delay that occur due to your management of your stations are completely eliminated”.
The Station Managers who accepted the challenges presented before them towards growing the airline through effective service and customer relations, reaffirmed their determination to work to make United Nigeria Airlines the best in air transport services in Nigeria.
United Nigeria Airlines, which began operations in February 2021 with initial flight operations to Enugu, Asaba, Lagos and Abuja, has expanded to bring its services to Owerri, Warri, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa and Anambra airports. It is also set to begin operations into Benin and Jos airports in its mission of flying to unite Nigerians with their destinations in safety and comfort.
The airline was also recently certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), after a very rigorous operational safety audit which earned for it the coveted IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), thus firmly placing it in the global register of healthy airlines with standardized operational processes.
Already, management of the airline is committed to boost its capacity through massive fleet expansion as it visions commencement of flight operations into the West African sub region. This is coming on the background of awards by several organisations including the media and Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), recognizing the airlines’ measured and steady growth.
Addressing journalists during the retreat, the Chief Operating Officer, Engr. Okonkwo stated that United Nigeria Airlines is poised to fly regional adding that the IOSA certification was great boost to its vision.
Okonkwo said all necessary documents and approval have been made and the organisation has commenced engagements with the Civil Aviation Authority of various African countries for final approval.
He also said commencing regional flight is a process and the Airline is following it step by step to achieve it before the end of the year.
“It is a reality that is going to happen very soon. In keeping with our strategy, we started with Nigeria, next is the region which is West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa, North Africa and South Africa.
“We have done all the processes, the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification is a necessary requirement, we get into IATA registry and membership, now we have been designated to operate a number of routes.
“IOSA is a globally recognised standard under which every airline has to operate; it involves all aspects of the airline business including organisational, operational, safety, engineering, training, maintenance.
“Currently we are engaging the respective Civil Aviation Authorities to get the necessary approvals, because you must recognise that you have to talk to each and every one of them, there is no centralised body that will give you approval to start flying all over Africa.
“So, it is a process, and we are hoping that in the next few months before the year runs out, you will hear a major announcement”, he said.
Speaking on the importance of the retreat, the Airline’s Chief Operating Officer said the move by the airline to commence regional flight is one of the gains of the retreat.
He said the organisation embarks on frequent meetings and engagements with its management with the aim of achieving steady improvement in its operation and services.
“You can see the impact! Last year we didn’t have IOSA, and this year, we have IOSA. So basically, we were all primed. At times it is also about the competences you have, the skills and zeal you have to execute according to laid down procedures and standards.
“So, this is impacting consciousness, energising the team, getting them to be at the level of excellence that we want.
“We also have operational meetings every day. There are teams meetings, operational reviews, there are management meetings. So what we say in United Nigeria Airline is that we are a learning organisation so, every day is a learning opportunity, if we see a new idea, we make sure that it is internalised and implemented”, Okonkwo stated.