FG to reciprocate any treatment meted on Air Peace on London route

Onwubuke Melvin
Onwubuke Melvin

The federal government has pledged to reciprocate any treatments meted on Air Peace on its recently launched Lagos-London route.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, during the Air Peace Lagos-London inaugural flight ceremony at the Murtala Muhammed International, Airport, Lagos on Friday, according to Businessday.

According to Keyamo, if any country or airline introduces obstacles to frustrate Air Peace’s operations, then Nigeria will also introduce theirs.

Keyamo said “If they introduce subtle obstacles to frustrate Air Peace, then we will introduce ours too. We must reciprocate.”

Meanwhile, The Minister pointed out that, in the case of Air Peace’s maiden flight to London, passengers are comfortable on board as regards their local Nigerian meals.

He added, that beyond passenger comfort, there will be competitive prices on international routes.

“We are seeing that already. Other airlines have opened up their lower-fare tickets to Nigerians now because Air Peace has come in. This is a very bullish approach to breaking the monopoly on this route.  The UK has 21 slots in our country every week. British Airways alone has 14 weekly slots.

“So, Air Peace will compete on this level. The most important one is that there would be no problem with trapped funds because it is a local company that will not have to repatriate money through the CBN. With the airlines that come to Nigeria; what we experience is massive repatriation of funds that puts pressure on the naira because they have to seek for dollars to repatriate from the sale of tickets.

“So, it eases the pressure on the naira because this is a Nigerian company that deals in naira. The only problem is that they still have to go abroad to do their aircraft maintenance. One of our major focuses is to bring in the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MROs) into Nigeria. The key to unlocking this country is to ensure that the facilities come into the county as quickly as possible,” Keyamo explained.

In his remark, the acting Director-General of Civil Aviation, Chris Najomo, said that for local airlines to succeed on any international routes, it was important for the government to adopt the Fly Nigeria Act for public officials.

In addition, he promised that, unlike in the past, the NCAA would support Air Peace and other indigenous airlines to succeed on international routes.

He noted “It is expected, it has been there even when I used to fly for Arik Air when the airline was going to London. It was there (aeropolitics). Now, because there is a Nigeria carrier on that route, we have given them 21 frequencies; this is just the beginning.

“It will be there and they will bring all sorts of ways to be able to cripple them, but I want to use this opportunity to tell the Federal Government to make a policy that Nigerians, government officials must fly Air Peace. That is my say here. I want the Federal Government to tell Nigerians “Fly Air Peace to London.”

The Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said that Nigerian airlines required enormous support from the government, especially in the area of equipment purchase for operators.

He averred that Air Peace was not new to international operations.

“Air Peace undertakes 160 hours of flying within this country every day for the past seven years without blemish. What is a six-hour flight? It is a nonstarter.”

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