Africa World Airlines (AWA) has become a participant in IATA’s Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) in Ghana. This means that selling, reporting and remitting procedures have become a lot easier for IATA accredited travel agents.
AWA’s Revenue Manager, Ann Amponsah Poku explains travel agents are extremely relevant in Africa. “If you want to be a big player in the market, you must engage the travel agency market,” she says.
The airline became a participant of BSP Nigeria last year in August. Says Poku: “The main reason at that time to participate in BSP Nigeria was that the travel agency sales in Nigeria makes up 60% of all ticket sales in the country. If you want to succeed in that environment, you need to be on BSP.”
Poku explains the airline was operating on the Lagos route for two years without being on the BSP and suffered a lot in terms of distribution. “Since we joined in August last year, our numbers have really picked up. We’ve seen improved load factors on average. It was a move we had to make, and one that has definitely paid off for us,” she says.
AWA has ambitious plans for the future and wants to become an important regional player. Poku says there are plans to grow the regional network to more destinations in west Africa. The expectation is to start two new routes this year to expand the network.
Other exciting projects for the future are the development of a mobile app and the establishment of a loyalty programme. “You simply can’t underestimate the importance of technology in this market,” says Poku, explaining that the uptake of web and mobile bookings in Ghana and Nigeria has been phenomenal. “Two years ago, web sales were about 2% to 3%. Today, this has more than doubled and is continuing to grow.”
AWA is relying on Amadeus to help with the realisation of its ambitions. “Amadeus in Africa is the leading GDS. They have been in Africa for many years and thoroughly understand West Africa’s market dynamics and trends. In terms of reach, Amadeus is the best; they are even reaching into countries that don’t have a BSP yet. In West Africa, Amadeus is a big enabler to help any airline grow their network, and achieve distribution as far and wide as possible. In terms of data and analytics, Amadeus is also a great source of information for network expansion,” says Poku.
AWA is only available on the Amadeus GDS. Over the last year, Amadeus has signed agreements with no less than eight African airlines, offering travel agents access to more local and relevant travel options: these include Africa World Airlines, Dana Air, fastjet, Fly Blue Crane, Fly CamInter, FlySafair, Med-View Airlines and Mid Africa Aviation.