The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Airline, Mr Allen Onyema, has further opened up on the real challenges of indigenous carriers revealing that “There are different types and kinds of hostilities in the sector.”
While acknowledging that “It has never been rosy for any airline,” he noted that “This is a business that is highly capital intensive and requires 24-hour undiluted support from all and sundry. The moment that support is not there, no matter the amount of money you put in to do things rightly, there is bound to be unpleasant consequences at the end.”
According to him, “It is a very hostile environment to operate airlines. Hostilities come from everywhere, including quarters you least expect; including the flying public, foreign airlines, and equipment lessors.
“It is like Nigeria is suffering from unwritten blacklisting, which makes it very difficult to get aircraft leased to us. So, there is a lot on our path to success; sometimes deliberate or inadvertently, put out there to scuttle the survival of Nigerian airlines. The factors are legion. It is extremely difficult for airlines to survive here. Those that are surviving are doing so by the special grace of God.
To further bring home his point, Onyema recalled and argued that “If Virgin Atlantic, with all their capital lay-out and technical know-how, could not survive in this clime, then you may begin to understand what I’m talking about. You don’t need to go far, just read Richard Branson’s book where he advertised Nigeria in unpleasant commentaries.”
The Air Peace boss was quick to disagree with a section of industry opinion leaders that some people do feel that the operators often don’t do due diligence before setting out, but they are rather carried away by the glamour of the industry.
While disagreeing with that line of reasoning, Onyema explained that “These operators are people that have succeeded in other businesses. You don’t just come into aviation; you must have been doing other businesses to endow you with the finance that aviation startups require. It means you have been a success in other endeavours. So, why is everybody failing in aviation? To him, “All these owners cannot all be wrong. The reasons why airlines fail are legion and are there for everyone to see.”
Continuing, he argued that “It is not at all times that the failures could be attributed to ownership or glamour. I don’t even see any glamour. What glamour am I enjoying if I go to bed at 3:30 a.m. every day and wake up 5:30 or 6:00 a.m.? Because, the moment your staff are reporting to duty, you also want to know what is happening; how many aircraft are flying, are we going to have disruptions and so on. So, it doesn’t give much joy. The only joy I derive is when I see the thousands of faces I have given jobs,” Air Peace founder, averred.
Business Hilights recalls that Air Peace Airlines took the Nigerian air space few years ago like a colossus and had since then, remained the preferred domestic airline where others have nosedived.
The airline had been careful in all its adventures both in ordering new air planes and management systems.
This made Air Peace to in less than five years of entry, has acquired a fleet of 26 aircraft, among which are three Boeing 777 airplanes for international services.
Only recently, it has a placed firm order for 40 brand new planes that are due for delivery early 2020.