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Multiple designations given to foreign airlines worst disservice to us—Air Peace boss

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Limited, Mr. Allen Onyema has opened up on the key factors killing the survival of indigenous airlines in Nigeria.

In an interview, he listed two critical policy disincentive meted out to local airlines including multiple taxation and multiple designations given to foreign airlines.

According to him, “Multiple designations given to foreign airlines are not only working against domestic operators, it is also working against the economy of this country”.

“Our foreign reserves are being depleted by the multiple designations being given to foreign airlines; so the industry will never grow. Those policies must be looked into. We must also make it compulsory that our airport infrastructure should be working.

Explaining more, Onyema argued that “Nigeria is a huge market for foreign airlines and they will do everything possible to make sure that no single Nigerian airline succeeds because the moment that happens, there will be problem for them. It is international aeropolitics and we are playing into their hands. They protect their own airlines and we are not being protected”.

He lamented the undue advantage given to Ethiopian Airlines, querying “why should Ethiopian Airlines have five destinations in Nigeria without any Nigerian airline flying into their country?”

“They (Ethiopian Airlines) should be limited to one entry and if they want more, let them go through a Nigerian carrier to distribute for them, so the money remains in our country. America is the home of aviation worldwide, yet with its robust economy, it still controls who comes into its airspace. Recently, all the gulf airlines’ entries were cut down to protect American airlines, but Nigeria with its weak economy still allows other countries to deplete what it has left in its foreign reserves.

Continuing, he said “That is why I am crying out. I don’t like the way we are celebrating Ethiopian Airlines in this country; it is a shame. Let the government encourage and support domestic airlines to fly into international routes and foreign airlines will fail because they depend on Nigeria’s traffic for revenue. I am a proud Nigerian, so when I see things I don’t like, I say them”.

Onyema who queried how much it will cost the federal government to fix airfield lighting in our airports, decried that “The money the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria receives every day is enough to do a lot of things. In my terminal at Lagos airport, there is only one security scanner attending to over 1000 people daily. How much does it cost to procure one? Let them hand it over to Air Peace, I will buy two scanners and employ people to manage it. If FAAN allows it and the Customs allow it to be cleared on time, I give you the next one month and there will be two working scanners there”.

Air Peace chairman noted that “These things cost nothing compared to what the airlines pay to aviation agencies. Policies should be pro-domestic airlines so that they can grow and help the economy to grow too. We are the people providing the jobs not the foreign airlines”.