After an elaborate ceremony to flag off it operations, today, Friday, a new entrant into the Nigeria domestic airline industry, Air Peace would commence scheduled flight operations across five routes in Nigeria.
Suleiman Idris examines the issues as to whether or not the airline will make any difference.
If there is one area that still bodge passengers’ flight experience in Nigeria, it is the ill treatment meted out by airlines on the domestic scene.
Incessant flight cancellation remains a challenge for airlines and demands for compensations by flyers seldom pitch distraught passengers against erring airlines. Albeit Nigeria regulatory authority, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) efforts to ameliorate and mediate in issues as they arise, passengers said there is more ground to cover by all those involved. Passengers’ satisfaction no doubts remain the basic impetus that holds the key to the successes of any airline business. When they complain of any unpleasant experience or ill-treatment upon the purchase of a flight ticket (s) until they arrive at their destinations, they are guests of the airline and expect to be accorded due courtesies. Flight cancellations, especially one too many, be it mechanical or otherwise, rude flight attendants, poor in-flight services, delays and leaving passengers in the dark without information as well numerous other bad deals is a pointer that the airlines may well be on its way to extinction or kiss the canvass if passengers’ complaints are ignored.
A stakeholder once said “because the airlines know that most passengers are not aware that they have a right to complain and get financial compensation when they don’t get the right services, the airlines tend to get away with the unscrupulous act, violate passengers’ right and subject them to physical and financial trauma.” This is inspite of the NCAA regulations that spell out penalties for specific offences by airlines regarding flight delays and cancellations.
However, the recent surge in new operating airline companies is giving passengers more options in air travel as many thrill and attract customers with mouth watering offers ranging from price cut, exquisite cuisine on board among others.
In the last few months, the industry has received a breath of fresh air as passengers’ choice has further been boosted. Hitherto, routes that were once considered not lucrative have become the darling of a few airlines who say they have the right business model and equipment.
At an elaborate ceremony at the newly built General Aviation Terminal 1 (GAT) on Tuesday in Lagos where he unveil seven airplanes, Chief Executive Officer of the Air Peace, Barrister Allen Onyema told the gathering that the airline’s entrance into the scene will change the face of airline operations in the industry, particularly regarding the perennial passengers’ complaints of poor quality of service.
Industry watchers who commented on the airline are upbeat that with what they have put on ground having received the Air Operator Certificate from the NCAA.
“A lot have been said about passengers’ dissatisfaction with flying on the domestic routes with complaints we read and hear everyday; l can assure you it will be a thing of the past.
We want to do something unique in air travel.
We want to fly from Warri to Port Harcourt; from Abuja to the smaller airports. We are using very strong Boeing jets to see flight from Benin to Port Harcourt, Kebbi to Abuja.
The whole idea is to bring peace to the country.
In Air Peace, we are not driven by profit, but to create jobs for Nigerians by ensuring qualified indigenous professionals are engaged,” Allen said.
Barrister Onyema, who is the chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria, FEHN, and facilitator of the amnesty programme in the Niger Delta said the country deserve nothing but the best as Africa largest and leading business environment. According to him, the idea behind Air Peace is not only to create employment for Nigeria but to put food on their tables and also put smiles on their faces. The trained Lawyer, who received accolade from the President of the
Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN) and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, touched on a sensitive issue stakeholders at the event and was applauded when he reiterated the need for operators to do away with unnecessary bickering among the carriers for the benefit of the industry and the flying public. “Finding showed the absurd and bizarre level of animosity among airline operators with the industry. The era of devilish competition and devilish envy in the aviation should remain in the past,” Tola Abiodun, a passenger right activist could not hid his feelings.
He said if what the CEO of Air Peace told Nigerians should materialise, it begins the journey for a cordial customer relationship with the airlines they fly.
Tola said “we keep them in business, so they must listen to us when we have challenges with one form of service or another.
The airline business is growing and any airline that wants to grow its business must have a robust customer relationship, if any airline thinks it can box its customer to a corner, it will soon kiss the canvass, the ideas enunciated by Air Peace is the way to go.”
For Obong Victor Attah, Nigerians can be rest assured that promises of Air Peace is a guarantee. He said Barrister Allen could be liken to the man with the magic wand affirming that the airline will soon become the Midas Touch the industry crave for.
Attah said “Onyema never fail in any venture, when he told this country he can bring about peace in the restive Niger Delta during the militancy era, nobody gave him a chance but the late President Yar’ Adua saw what he could offer and engaged him, we have a success story to tell today, he first muted the idea and it succeeded, now he has muted another fresh idea to run a customer friendly airline, again l can only see success and growth as time goes on”.
To affirm Obong Victor Attah’s assertion, Air Peace has come up with a couple of firsts in the industry, with 3 Dornier 328 all fitted with winglet engine with a combine 72 seat capacity and 4 Boeing 737-500, it remain the first airline to kick start domestic operation with 7 aircraft. The management said it will also offer it customer a free Wi-Fi upon arriving the terminals where the airline operates into before boarding their flights.
Not done with the humanitarian aspect of his new business, the peace Ambassador told the Military that for their sacrifice to keep the country secure and indivisible, he directed that all military men both serving and retired with genuine document signed by their superiors should not pay more than N10,000 on any of its flight. Obviously, Onyema’s dream to establish an airline dated back to 1998 and his avowed passion for peace is clearly visible in the 250 Nigerians in the employ of the company who are selected from across the different parts of Nigeria. He said “l have always been involved in Peace building all my life and have always also looked for avenues of using my blessings and activities to engender Peace in our Nation. It is my belief that l could use this airline to not only contribute to the economic development of our Nation but also to its peace and stability. We want to grow business and connect communities across Nigeria. In Air Peace, we know no tribe, no creed, no religion, no race but humanity. We shall promote National Peace and Cohesion with this Airline.” He told the gathering.
Onyema’s non-violent programme has brought peace in the Niger Delta region, stakeholders has also affirmed his Air Peace will quieten and erase passengers’ distraught of airline business in Nigeria. The country and the aviation industry will be better off with it.