Largest domestic carrier, Air Peace has lost more than N6 Billion on its West Coast route over what the airline described as Aero politics.
Chairman of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema who disclosed this at the weekend, therefore, called on government to support Nigerian airlines by helping them play the international aero politics, stating that domestic airlines are seriously suffering from lack of such support.
Onyema emphasised that it was because of lack of government support the airline lost over a billion to charges flying the West Coast routes
The operator lamented that if government was playing the aero politics on behalf of the indigenous carriers, it would reduce the way smaller countries try to take advantage of Nigerian airlines.
Onyema however, commended the federal government for suspending the Nigeria Air project idea, stating that Government has challenged indigenous airlines to fill that gap.
He pointed out that the airlines need the backing of the government in terms of slot negotiation, charges harmonisation and the normal détente that may keep country’s from pushing Nigerian carrier around.
“It is one thing for Nigeria to designate an airline as flag carrier, it is also another thing to get foreign countries to give us permit to operate. We have gone through this with Republic of Benin and even Senegal. Where they tell you there is market in the west coast and you fly it with only six passengers, we have incurred losses, then one country comes along and gives you US$10,000 charges. Air Peace has lost over 1,000,0000,0000 flying the West Coast, what ever we make here we use to subsidise west coast yet people demonize that there is no capacity”.
“On the international scene, I’ve told you if your country gives you the status of a flag carrier and you want to fly to London or another destination, the other country, they have an airline. They don’t want you to come and compete with their own airline, whether private airline or whatever, they don’t want you to compete. ”
“Even the airlines try to prevent you and their country will indirectly suspend you for a while until they are able to fathom a way of dealing with you when you come in. They can raise non-existent issues to hold you down, it is then you need the support of the government to play that politics to let them know that if you do not allow our flag carriers to come in, we are going to stop you. ”
“There are ways of doing that government to government and you will see they will quickly allow you to come in. We need that support. Then of course when you go to the charges, if we go there and they hammer us some unreasonable charges, draw their attention, it is our government that should do that. Draw the attention, that ‘our people are paying this, you are not paying this’ if they refuse you multiply it by two and increase their own, you will see they will withdraw, they will stop”.
“That is not within the control of any airline, they have so many stumbling blocks for you not to come into their country, they lay these in your path so government should help us.” On the suspension of the proposed Nigeria Air, Onyema said it was President Buhari’s way of giving a vote of confidence on the existing domestic carriers. ” I am not calling to be made a national carrier, we are already a flag carrier, he said, Arik, Azman, MaxAir, Me-view are all flag carrier flying our flag on the international route what I am doing is calling on government for support so these airlines to succeed and thrive”.
On the suspension of the national carrier, Onyema added “President Buhari has challenged Nigerian airlines to use this occasion to fill the gap. Government has challenged the rest of us to live up to expectation. It means for the first time we have seen a government that saw it made a mistake and has retraced its steps something no government has done. We need government to help us especially to fight the international aero politics”.