Founder and Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema has challenged foreign airlines complaining of blocked or trapped funds in Nigeria to reduce their frequencies stressing that these airlines know the situation, yet to keep Nigerian airlines down, keep requesting increased frequencies in a bid to strangle them.
He also decried how in certain quarters the country is run aground over inability to remit funds especially when foreign airlines knew what they were doing while narrating the treatment meted on the Air Peace while evacuating Nigerian from London during the height of the Covid-19 in 2020.
Onyema who was speaking to a gathering of the House of Representatives including the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila said he felt saddened that Nigerians would go on air to rubbish the country and utter no word of encouragement or sympathy for Nigerian airlines that have felt the full force of stigmatization by foreign authorities all in a bid to strangle them.
He noted that the frequencies were being sought as a means of cutthroat competition despite these airlines knowing the situation on ground.
According to him, the frequency increase is still when the Nigerian airline is frustrated out of the market, then the foreign airlines now revert to a higher fare, hence why it cost N2.3 million to go to London from Lagos, a six hour flight while it is far less between South Africa and London which is nine hour flight,
“They talk about trapped funds and the Central Bank has asked them to use the I and E Window just like Nigerian airlines. Are they seizing our money? No, we are getting it through the I and E Window and it may take time but it comes.
“You know quite well your funds would be trapped here, you know they are blocked but you kept increasing your frequency everyday to the detriment of Nigerian airlines, you are increasing frequency knowing fully well you cannot fill your aircraft, what we are saying is allow Nigerians to access your country and contribute to the nation, stop the stigmatization.
“It is not as if they will get enough passengers for the third frequency they applied for, the idea is to snuff life out of indigenous airlines so when you close shop, they continue doing what they know how to do best, making Nigerian pay out of their noses.
” This cutthroat competition should stop. Why do do many frequencies and at the end of the day compound woes on the country, N2.3 million to fly to London for a six hour flight.”
On Air Peace’s treatment Onyema said, it is unacceptable that Nigerians would go on television and and say Nigeria failed because funds are blocked. During the reparation Air Peace was struggling to help its citizens, to get Landing Permit into Heathrow, our tickets we sold out within thee hours for 364 seater 777 aircraft because we understood the plight and gave them a fare less than N400,000 when another airline was taking 2000 pounds.
” To discourage us, they set dogs on our aircraft, sniffing our pilots and passengers and at the end of the day stopped us from doing walk around on the aircraft, something that violates safety. Before that plane must take off again after a six hour flight the cockpit crew needed to do walk around to know of the aircraft was compromised, Kindly NCAA petitioned ICAO.
” Nigerians would not go to the television to ask them about that. And because they saw we were bringing down fares, the second flight which we had gotten approval for they cancelled and we had to hire an European carrier paid for 534 Nigerians to be brought back free of charge.” He lamented.