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Air Peace Chairman, Barrister Allen Onyema

Air Peace puts loses to aircraft grounding, delays at N3b, pleads for protection of workers

AIR PEACE has put the loss of its aircraft due to its grounding after incidents that affected two of its aircraft at the general aviation terminal in Lagos and one at the Benin Airport at over N3 billion stating that the airline would require more than N300 million to repair the aircraft damaged in the incidents.

The chairman of the airline, Mr. Allen Onyema who disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos yesterday also called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to do something extra to protect staff of airlines from muggings and mob actions from unruly passengers

Speaking on the grounding of its aircraft, Onyema said the airline would need over N250 million to repair the winglet of one of the aircraft that was damaged at the GAT.

He explained,“We lost three aircraft in one day; two of them in Lagos when there was a collision that destroyed the winglet of these aircraft, and the other incident happened in Benin airport when equipment belonging to Skypower Aviation Handling Co. Ltd damaged one of our aircraft at Benin Airport.

“We had to ground these aircraft and look for how to fix them. In fact, we have lost over N3 billion in the process. We had 24 flights affected and we had to plan in 24 hours how to solve this problem. It was not our making as this meant we had to reschedule or even cancel some flights and also make provisions to entertain the affected passengers at various airports,” he said

On unruly passengers, Onyema said the delays and cancellation of flights had angered some passengers who resorted to the molestation of the airline’s staff and the destruction of some facilities.

“They abused our staff verbally; they beat up one of our elderly staff and stripped him naked and destroyed our facilities. They enter into the airside of an airport and stop a flight from taking off in protest. This is what we now face from unruly and violent passengers who want to fly at all cost whenever flights are cancelled or delayed. It is not done anywhere in the world.

Passengers misbehaving this way around an aircraft pose a threat to the aircraft because anyone among them can throw something and sabotage the aircraft. It is time the government takes steps to protect airlines and staff so it doesn’t lead to self-defense by airlines,” he added.

The Air Peace Chairman also lamented what he called multiple taxation regime when combined with the high cost of aviation fuel was posing a serious threat to the survival of airlines in the country.

Vexed on the multiple taxations, he said that more carriers would go under if huge taxes are not reviewed or reduced.

His words, “We want to support this government to succeed. The Minister for State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika means well. He just needs good advice. What we are saying is that more airlines would crumble if these taxes were not reviewed. Some of these taxes are fall out of legislation. Government needs to check why airlines are crumbling.”

Onyema also said local airlines were having difficulties reciprocating some routes within the West African sub-region under the Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) signed by the federal government with those countries.

He cited Cameroon, Togo, and Cote d’Ivoire as some of those countries frustrating Air Peace from flying into their countries through various bureaucratic bottlenecks and he promised to challenge their actions in Nigeria courts by May 23, 2017.

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