By Chinedu Eze
The Chairman and Chief Executive of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has called for massive campaign against the stigmatisation of Nigerians.
Onyema who made the call in Lagos, at the weekend, during a meeting with aviation correspondents, said Nigerians have suffered global bad image, whose actions were misrepresented, exaggerated and stigmatised.
He regretted that the stigmatisation had led to lack of trust and exploitation of Nigerians in business negotiations and international trade.
The Air Peace boss disclosed that in 2016, his airline bought an aircraft from the United States, but the aircraft was not released to the company till after eight months, despite the fact that the airline fully paid for it and followed through with consistent dialogues with the company, the US embassy in Nigeria and relevant government agencies.
Onyema also urged Nigerians to support indigenous enterprises, stressing that it was time to take patriotism to another level and stop the pull-him-down syndrome, which has become typical of the character of many Nigerians.
“When you attack a man because he owns a business and you want his business to collapse, if eventually that business collapses, it is the workers that will lose their jobs.
“Just imagine that Air Peace goes down today (God forbid), over 3000 people from different parts of the country will lose their jobs. These are direct jobs given to largely very young people.
“So if you pull the airline down you have succeeded in the sack of many Nigerians who are gainfully employed and who are contributing their quota in the development and growth of the society,” he said.
He commended the federal government and the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika for addressing the problem of multi-designation, which is allowing foreign airlines to land at different airports in the country, noting that government listens to the clamour of the people and the media and responds positively to the yearnings of the people.
Onyema, however pleaded that more should be done to protect indigenous carriers so that more jobs would be created for Nigeria’s teeming youths, noting that if domestic carriers operate international destinations they would crash outrageous airfares charged against Nigerian travelers by international airlines.
“Air Peace has helped in bringing down the prices of tickets to Dubai. For instance, on Air Peace you can pay as low as 180,000 for a return trip to Dubai, N650, 000 for business class and N850, 000 on First class.
“When we start the London route, we will bring down the prices of ticket so that even students can afford to go to London. We will start the Mumbai route by March 2020 and later in the year, we will commence direct flight to Tel Aviv in Israel,” he said.
According to him, “It is about the lives we are touching and the families by extension. It is not about what we make and the truth is that Air Peace employs 3, 200 directly and if these ones lose their jobs and many of them are virile and agile, imagine what they may turn to? And so it is my joy to see these people off the streets and gainfully employed.
Onyema also commended Aero Contractors for commencing C-checks (maintenance) on aircraft, adding that with more capacity, Aero (which has started conducting D-check on Boeing Classics) would help indigenous airlines save billions of naira spent annually abroad on aircraft maintenance.