Business Hilights
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Nigeria needs maintenance facility not a national carrier—-Onyema, Air Peace CEO

The chief executive officer of leading airline, Air Peace Limited, Mr. Allen Onyema has punctured trending discussion on floating a national air carrier, saying the plot is currently moribund.

In an interview, he argued that “Government should be wary of certain advice that hurt the industry,” stressing that “We don’t need to kill domestic airlines to pave way for a national carrier. Even advanced countries only have flag carriers; the idea of a national carrier is moribund. What Nigeria needs is a maintenance facility”.

According to him, “Air Peace alone has taken out about $60m on maintenance alone in the last two years; imagine what that could do for the country. What we need is a maintenance facility not a national carrier”.

“The government should support those doing business in the name of the country. This government is interested in making the industry to succeed because they have given us destinations to operate, but they should also stop the unrestrained entry of foreign airlines. They should be made to codeshare with domestic airlines,” Onyema noted.

Business Hilights recalls that recently, several stakeholders both in the air and maritime sectors had called for the establishment of national carriers, but Air Peace boss said “I find it bizarre”. The gullible in the society can take it seriously.

On why many people are still interested in investing in airlines, Onyema advised intending investors to bear in mind that “Nigerians pay the cheapest fare worldwide and it is only through fares that airlines make money. Even when you carry a full load, you don’t make one per cent gain in Nigeria — you only count loses”.

Continuing, he disclosed that “All over the world, the gains from commercial aviation is marginal. Nobody gains anything here; it only gives you name. And if you are talking about investing, you must think about safety, which means you must be sure of who is in your cockpit. You must take into consideration that pilots earn a lot. A lot of people come in and close down within months”.

“Before I came in, I was told that if I manage it well my business will be intact. I was told to forget profit, that profit starts coming in after seven to 10 years if well managed, but it will also be marginal — about two to three per cent. We are succeeding because we care about humanity and not tribe or tongue,” he intoned.