• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Air Peace blames Gatwick ‘dirty tricks’ for lack of peak season London tickets

Air Peace blames Gatwick ‘dirty tricks’ for lack of peak season London tickets

Allen Onyema, the chairman of Air Peace, says the airline has not started selling Lagos to London tickets for dates between October and December because Gatwick Airport is delaying granting it slots to operate within the period.

Onyema said while other airlines are already selling December tickets, Air Peace can’t sell at the moment because Gatwick Airport is yet to give it slot to operate between October to December. He described this as part of the ‘dirty tricks’ played on the Lagos-London route to fight Air Peace.

Onyema who disclosed this during the 48th Annual General Meeting and exhibition of the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) at Balmoral Convention Centre, Ikeja said the advantage Air Peace has over other airlines is that Air Peace is flying people from States in Nigeria to London via the Lagos airport, thereby saving passengers over N200,000 they would have paid on local destinations after arriving at Lagos airport.

“We studied to find out why Nigerian airlines failed on the London route, we know the issues and we addressed them. It is not the fault of Nigerian airlines. If I didn’t go to the media to expose what Gatwick and other airlines were doing to us, we would not have lasted on the Lagos-London route for two weeks,” he said.

Speaking on how to use the Single Africa Air Transport Market, (SAATM) to unlock Africa’s economic potential, he said that
apart from Ghana, all other African countries where Air Peace operates, have continued to use exorbitant airport charges to frustrate Air Peace from operating into the African market.

Onyema said while these African countries operate flights into Nigeria unhindered, whenever Air Peace shows interest to also operate flights into their countries, they write to Air Peace not to come.

He further disclosed that when Air Peace challenges this decision in court, the countries would reluctantly allow Air Peace to operate but afterwards use exorbitant airport charges to frustrate the airline.

“It took us four years to get approval to fly into a West African country but their airline has been coming into Nigeria for many years. When we eventually started flying, they wanted to chase us away with exorbitant airport charges. They told us to pay $12,000 per landing. We cannot implement SAATM in a lopsided way and expect it to work.

“Some countries we fly into send us bills running into millions of euros. When we ask them how we incurred the bill, they won’t respond. We made payment and after making payment, they told us the account we paid into no longer exists and we need to make a fresh payment. I have never seen a country as welcoming as Nigeria but we are being stigmatised in other countries,” Onyema said.

He also disclosed that another African country asked Air Peace to pay 4 million euros as charges incurred but when Air Peace asked them how they arrived at the charges, they got judgement against Air Peace in a French court.

Festus Keyamo, the Minister of aviation and aerospace development who was represented by Hassan Tai Ejibunu, director, Air Transport management, minister of aviation and aerospace development said the theme of this year’s AGM and Exhibition ‘Unlocking Africa’s Economic Potential: Travel and Tourism as Catalyst for Intra-Africa Business, Investment and Trade,’ is very apt as it is sync with the visionary thought of African leaders to integrate and facilitate trade and investment among the 55 countries of the African Union and eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the continent, through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

AfCFTA he said is the world’s largest free trade area which objective includes free movement of people and capital. With a combined GDP of an estimated US$3.4 trillion, the pact links 1.4 billion people living in different parts of the continent.

Keyamu said the underlying objectives behind the creation of AfCTFA cannot be totally achieved without the contribution of Associations like NANTA in the continent, as they facilitate the movement of people, goods and services.

He said the 5 Point Agenda which are in tandem with the renewed Hope Agenda of the President are: “Ensure strict compliance with safety regulations and continuous upward movement of Nigeria’s rating by ICAO, support for the growth and sustenance of local businesses whilst holding them to the highest international standard in the aviation industry, improve infrastructures in the aviation industry, develop human capacity within the industry and Optimise revenue generation for the federal government.”

Also speaking at the event, Susan Akporaiye, said when NANTA was confronted by the high fare pandemic out of Nigeria, it reasoned with the government and stakeholders to address the issue.

Akporaiye also hinted that during the covid pandemic, it trained and retrained members for innovation on new streams of income.