REACTING to Minister of State, Aviation’s jibe that it has not commenced international operations because of lack of capacity, Air Peace has said aviation politics has caused its delay on its foreign operations and has asked government to play its role and play the international aero-politics
Air Peace is designated to commence long-haul routes to countries including London, Guangzhou-China, Houston, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Dubai and Sharjah.
Speaking at the 5th Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum organised by the Federal Ministry of Transport in Abuja on Thursday, Air Peace Chief Operating Officer, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Olajide said authorities of most of the international destinations the carrier had been designated to operate to were either deliberately foot-dragging in processing its application or imposing frustrating conditions to discourage it from flying into their domains.
Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had openly criticised the airline for acquiring two Boeing 777-200/300 ER and not operating the long haul machines.
The Minister said he had signed the routes to Air Peace with the airline not able to operate the flights.
However, Mrs. Olajide stated that some of the destination countries only responded to the airline’s application only after about two years.
Where the destination countries reluctantly approved the airline’s application to fly into their domains, Olajide regretted, impossible charges were imposed to frustrate and discourage it from acting on such approval.
The high charges imposed on Nigerian airlines by other nations, she said, were unfortunately not responded to back home. The foreign airlines were rather pampered in Nigeria and given approval to operate to multiple destinations.
She dismissed claims that domestic airlines lacked the capacity to take advantage of the Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) Nigeria signed with different countries.
In demonstration of its capacity, she said, Air Peace was at the moment consistently operating into 14 domestic and five regional destinations, including Accra, Banjul, Dakar, Freetown and Monrovia.
Olajide maintained that Air Peace had capacity to operate into all destinations approved for it, announcing that the airline was concluding arrangements to launch its Dubai and Sharjah services before the end of the year.
In apparent response to the claim that some foreign airlines operating in Nigeria had offered 20 pilots jobs, the Air Peace COO said the carrier had so far directly offered jobs to more than three thousand (3,000) Nigerians, besides impacting the nation’s economy in many other respects.
She also identified the inability of airlines to operate into most of the nation’s airports once it was sunset as a great disservice to the operational capacity of the carriers.
Speaking on the suspended national carrier project, which Air Peace had criticised as being out of fashion and a drain on public resources, Olajide wondered whether it would be fair for the Federal Government to confer the planned airline with advantages not available to the existing private carriers.