West Africa’s biggest carrier, Air Peace has cleared the air about its international operations, disclosing that it is in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) clearing house and has the right equipment and personnel to operate international service.
Stanley Olisa, spokesman of the airline, was reacting to a recent interview granted by a stakeholder in the industry who said that Nigerian airlines cannot succeed in international operation because they are not in IATA clearing house and also that they operate point to point.
According to him, that was obvious expression of ignorance by the stakeholder “who spoke authoritatively about how Nigerian airlines are going to fail, as he is wont to do, always predicting how Nigerian carriers are going to fail and how he has the magic wand to stop the failure if he is consulted. But he does not know that Air Peace is in IATA clearing house!”
Olisa said that Air Peace has what it takes to succeed on international routes and has forged strategic foreign operational alliances to sustain its overseas operations.
By lauding another airline in the said interview, which he said is operated professionally because the airline has indicated its interest to operate regional service, Olisa said this is the old strategy to pit Nigerian airlines against one another, which in recent times has failed woefully because the airlines have realized that some of those who strut around as industry experts waiting to be consulted do not mean well for the airlines.
“We are not in the business of prosecuting campaigns of calumny on other airlines but for the so-called expert to gloss over Air Peace, the only Nigerian airline operating regional and international flights for over six years, is not only unfair but is reflective of those old games that have stopped working,” Olisa said.
The stakeholder stressed that point-to-point operational model does not allow Nigerian airlines to succeed on international routes.
“We agree with him that the model has its limitations but he failed to add or realise that Nigeria does not have transit facilities at international airports. Air Peace operates connecting flights such as Lagos-Banjul-Dakar and Lagos-Accra-Monrovia. Besides, Nigerian airlines are pushing that the Nigerian Immigration Service should recognize transit passengers and not insist that they obtain Nigerian visa before connecting their flight.
“We hope that things will change when transit facility is built at out airports and the Nigerian Immigration Service is on the same page with us about transit passengers. That is even when we would be ready to benefit from Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
“We expected the stakeholder to comment on the myriad of challenges confronting Nigerian airlines instead of indirectly castigating Air Peace, the largest carrier in Nigeria operating about 3000 flights monthly, a figure that is higher than the total number of flights operated by all the other Nigerian airlines put together,” Olisa said.
On the issue of flight disruptions, Olisa said that it is not enough to blame the airlines for the delays and cancellations; noting that he should have also critically dwelt on the issues that engender these disruptions. The Air Peace spokesman emphasized that no airline deliberately delays flights or takes delight in cancelling flights.
“Every airline wants to record a high percentage of on-time performance but there are several factors that cause flight disruptions beyond the control of the airlines. The Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) has just announced harmattan haze in northern part of the country. This obviously will disrupt flights and soon it will come down to the south.
“Airlines suffer delays due to VIP movement; aircraft are grounded due to bird strike. All these in addition to other factors beyond the airlines cause flight delays and as an ‘expert’ in the industry who has put in many years in the sector, he should know better than pushing the blame on the airlines.
“We advise that the so-called aviation expert should be fair when opinionating on industry issues and refrain from making Air Peace, or any other Nigerian airline, look unserious and foredoomed.
“He should avoid vindictive sentiments and channel his energy into offering key insights that can help move the country’s aviation industry forward for the good of all,” Olisa also said.