The chairman and chief executive officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema says the Airline operators in Nigeria needs more support from the government to grow the Aviation sector
Mr. Onyema said the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika is doing well especially in addressing the issues of destination imbalance whereby multiple frequencies and designations are given to foreign airlines.
He was speaking to some members of Association of Journalist and Tourism Writers of Nigeria (ANJET), during a courtesy visit to his Lagos office.
On Air peace operations in Dubai, one of the destinations with heavy flow of visitors from Nigeria, Mr. Onyema says; “Our Dubai operations is going on seamlessly, our waiting time, the delay over period is very short, in some cases one hour. Some people think that Sharjah is far from Dubai, no, it is not, is just 15 minutes, is even closer to some parts of Dubai than Dubai Airports. Because of the trekking you do before you get to the immigration check point, some passengers trek up to two hours, by which somebody who landed in Sharjah has gone to his hotel and probably sleeping.
”Sharjah has a smaller airport, so when you land there, those long formalities and long trekking are not there, you just walk to the immigration counter and within 45 minutes you are out of that airport and you are in your hotel in Dubai.”
He however, encouraged Nigerian travellers to patronise Nigerian own aircrafts.
Mr. Onyema said; “Nigerians should be patriotic enough to patronise their own, we don’t have the kind of money Emirates have, using state money for their operations and that is unfair competition, which was what led to the airline being pushed out of America, because they were using all manner of tactics, using state funds to run airlines, which is not always allowed, is an unfair competition. But America government stepped in immediately and cut down many frequencies given to them and it affected them and they withdrew.
”Now in Nigeria, they are doing all sorts of things, they have done it to Arik Air, done it to Virgin Nigeria, done it to Medview Air and now is Air Peace. Failing on that route is not the fault of Nigerian airlines because they employ unfair competition, using state funds to compete, they can afford to slash their fares as low as 90 per cent just to push you out and when they push you out, they will come back to gain all they lost all over again.”
He believe that that all hands must be on deck to safeguard Nigerian airlines.
“There is so much the government can do in this circumstance. But it is for the people to understand that this is their own airline, in-terms of pricing, your own will be your own.
”What I did in South Africa, no airline under the sun can do that, even government will find it difficult to do, but we did it because is our country, they cannot do that. All the 34 airlines operating into Nigeria has not employed up to 350 Nigerians as at today and they remit billions back to their country on annual basis more than us and Air Peace alone has 3,200 Nigerians working directly under it and with about 9,000 ancillary jobs.
”So, why can’t we support our own? What are they providing that others can’t provide? They lure you with all sorts of things and you end up paying for it. When the country’s economy is going down, you will end up paying all these little things they are offering you,” he stated.