Aviation Politics Hurting Nigerian Airlines’ International Operations, Says Onyema

Allen Onyema

Chinedu Eze

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has said one of the reasons why Nigerian airlines have failed to successfully operate international destinations is because of international aviation politics, which according to him does not favour the airlines since they are not major players in the global air travel market.

He explained that for an airline to profitably operate international destinations, it must have to partner and code-share with other major carriers so that passengers could be carried farther than the final destination of the airline.

Onyema, who made this known during an interview with THISDAY sister broadcast station, Arise TV, pointed out that a Nigerian airline could take a passenger to London and the passenger would continue his flight to New Zealand with the Nigerian airline’s code-share partner. This he said, enables airlines to operate beyond point to point and enables it charge for tickets beyond its own destinations, as its partners in different countries take its passengers to their final destinations.

But due to the fact that there are alliances and partnerships among the major carriers, they could shut out some airlines, especially those ones from African countries, he said, adding that without code-share partnership, airlines would operate limited destinations and would not attract customers who travel to places beyond the destinations they operate.

Onyema, said the airline, which plans to start international operations on July 5, 2019, had put that factor into consideration and has done everything necessary to break the jinx of Nigerian airlines’ failure in the international air travel market.

“We are very prepared despite all the huge odds that has staked against us in the political aviation arena internationally, we are not scared of anything we are starting with Sharja and Dubai, UAE coming July 5, 2019. We have been deploying our Boeing 777 to such operations and we are really ready to make a difference and give Nigerians what they have been lacking”, Onyema said.

He also noted that aero politics is the reason why air travel from Nigeria is dominated by foreign carriers which charge Nigerian passengers exorbitant fares, as travellers do not have alternative airlines owned by Nigerians that can compete with them.

“You see, it is unfortunate that Nigerians have been paying through their nose over the years for international flight operations. A six hour flight to Europe cost more than nine hour flight from Johannesburg to Europe. So already foreign airlines are making a feast out of Nigerians and often times most of them would never want any of the Nigerian airlines to succeed.

“But we in Air Peace are trying to help our nation and the domestic airlines are the ones creating the jobs. The foreign airline put together in the last 60 years has not created the jobs Nigerian airlines have created. The number of people they have employed within that period is not anything near what Air Peace alone has created in our first year of operation, not to talk of now we have created up to 3000 direct jobs and over 9000 ancillary jobs in the economy besides acting as a catalyst for economic development,” Onyema insisted.

The Air Peace Chairman also blamed Nigerian airlines for failing to operate international destinations successfully, noting that in addition to aero politics sometimes the Nigerian carriers are not adequately prepared in terms of equipment to compete effectively with foreign airlines.

“They have been able to dominate the routes for a long time because of our inadequacies and here you blame both the airlines and government policies. The airlines are not left out of it too, because when you are prepared to go to this kind of confrontation, you get what you deserve. You cannot do international flight operations with one aircraft, what happen if that aircraft goes down, you disappoint passengers and end up being forced out of the market,” he said.

Also the Chief Pilot of the airline, Capt. Victor Egonu, expressed confidence that the launch of the flight would ease the plight of thousands of travellers from Nigerians on the Sharja-Duba route.