Given the general adage that Nigerian airlines’ average life span is 10 years, every airline always recognise that a milestone has been achieved whenever it clocks 10 years.
Last week Dana Air marked its 15 years of existence as schedule commercial operator and those behind the airline have every reason to clink glasses in celebration.
It is on record that Dana Air rose from the deep valley of mishap to reckoning and defied predictions by recording high load factor weeks after resuming flight service, contrary to projections of industry pundits that no one would patronize it.
Dana Air started operation in November 2008 and since then it has carried over 36 million passengers with medium fleet of seven variant of Boeing aircraft and one Learjet for charter services.
Dana Air is one of the oldest operating airlines in Nigeria today after Aero Contractors and Overland Airways. Its contemporary, Afrijet Airlines went under after few years and around the same period was the establishment of Discovery Air which barely operated for two years.
Aero Contractors remains the oldest schedule commercial airline still operating today and it is due to resilience and good planning that enabled Dana Air to join it along with Overland Airways.
The airline unique selling point is its in-flight service. It is reputed to have smart cabin crew known for respectability and humility in the way they attend to passengers. That is what marked the airline out in addition to its good on time performance.
It is Dana Air’s enviable in-flight service that won the airline loyal customers who stick to it at all seasons.
The airline has also garnered awards over the years for its good performance. It has won a series of awards for nationalistic and broad-based Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), aviation excellence, customer service, and was unveiled among 100 Most Respected Companies in Nigeria by Business DAy research unit in 2016.
The airline is reputed to have pioneered 24/7 customer service in Nigeria and WhatsApp booking to underscore its commitment to ensuring contactless booking for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic social distance rules.
It has also weathered the storm and so many challenges and it is the first Nigerian airline to have undergone operational and financial audits with the the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and had passed these audits overtime
Head of Communication and spokesman of the airline, Kingsley Ezenwa said the airline has buffeted through the odds, the myriads of challenges that confront Nigerian carriers and has developed resilience over the years.
It has also significantly improved its safety culture and made customer satisfaction the focus of its operation.
“Dana Air’s vision is to be recognised and respected as Nigeria’s most reliable and customer-friendly airline and her mission is to earn the loyalty and respect of our customers by consistently demonstrating our commitment to service, and providing affordable regional air transport services that focus on innovation, quality and service excellence,” he said.
Ezenwa said the airline is determined to abide and follow standards recommended practices and to strictly adhere to the rules as enunciated by NCAA.
“Dana Air is resolute in adhering to globally recognised safety standards and it is consistently reviewing its products and services to offer superior options aimed at passenger comfort, and safety.Dana Air has grown and varied its fleet from two from inception in 2008 to eight and remains determined to consolidate its route network in Nigeria while engaging aircraft manufacturers like Boeing recently for fleet expansion support.
“Dana Air as a proudly Nigerian brand has shown massive commitment to Nigeria’s economy with its constant support to the Nigerian Economic Summit Group. The airline also showed great interest in growing Nigeria’s aviation by carrying out part of its maintenance at a homegrown MRO – 7 star global hanger pending its desire to set up its MRO in Nigeria,” Ezenwa said.
He added that Dana Air has also shown great commitment to local content policy by employing and training more Nigerian pilots, engineers and dispatchers while supporting finishing school training for young Nigerians passionate about aviation.
“Dana Air, like few others, have crossed the 10 year lifespan syndrome for local Nigerian carriers and is still waxing stronger with a decade and half of operations in Nigeria’s very harsh aviation industry,” he added.
It is also good to observe that besides a brief foray into Accra, Ghana, Dana Air has remained a domestic operator and has proved that an airline could only operate locally and survive and make profits.
Industry stakeholder and Secretary of Aviation Round Table (ART), Olu Ohunayo, told THISDAY that Dana Air went through trying periods and survived due to the airline’s commitment and dexterity, effectively managing its equipment and efficiently administering the airline for the past 15 years.
“I congratulate the Dana Air management. I give it to them. They are the most resilient in the industry at the moment, considering what they have gone through and they are still standing. Other airlines that have gone through that have stopped flying, but Dana Air came out resilient and maintained the same fleet of aircraft and were able to fly successfully and safely.
“I am a fan of their over the wing seat. I love the seat there and I always ask for the seat anytime I fly with Dana Air. I congratulate them. They look like an airline that can transform into hybrid carrier of traditional and low-cost variant. They have the potential by virtue of the capacity of their aircraft and in keeping one type of aircraft so far. They should look at that window of a traditional carrier and low cost carrier,” Ohunayo said.
A regular traveller who patronises Dana Air said he prefers the airline because it is always pocket friendly, most often it is on time and he enjoys the friendliness and at the same time business like disposition of the cabin crew.
“I have been travelling by air in Nigeria for over 20 years and I know the characteristics of our airlines. I have always been a fan of Dana Air. What attracted me first is the fact that relatively their fares are okay. What I usually do is to make sure that I buy my ticket in time. I usually buy ticket a week before and it is always affordable,” he said.