• Sunday, June 16, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Air Peace Lagos-London debut: Passenger narrates ‘aero-politics’

Air Peace: Strategies to gain competitive advantage in the battle for the skies

Jide Iyaniwura, a passenger on Air Peace’s inaugural flight from Gatwick to Lagos, who is also knowledgeable in airport operations has explained how the British government is introducing subtle obstacles to frustrate Air Peace out of the London route.

Recalled that last week, Air Peace commenced it’s Lagos-London flight which has seen foreign carriers such as British Airways, (BA) Virgin and other airlines slash prices on the route.

Iyaniwura, who has originally planned on travelling with BA, decided to support Air Peace by buying Air Peace ticket to experience the airline’s inaugural flight.

According to this passenger, the pre-boarding operation felt like the airport authorities and operations are designed to look as if Air Peace is inefficient.

He said ground operations are largely out of the hands of airline operators and are solely in the hands of the airport authorities and in this case, the Gatwick airport and the third party baggage handling company.

The passengers who narrated his experience via YouTube channel said when he arrived the airport at 7.30am, there was no sign that pointed to passengers the direction where Air Peace was checking in, which was wrong and for him signalled the first alarm bell.

“Air Peace was also put at the back of a corner somewhere. This was the second alarm bell.

“Thirdly the check-in desk where Air Peace was and the belt that moved the luggage from the check-in operator to the baggage handlers was not working. For an inaugural flight of an air operator, these are things you expect the airport authorities to have worked closely with the airline operators to make sure they were seamless. They gave their assurances but failed.

“As an outsider, if you stood there, you would think Air Peace is not efficient.
I notice the number of desks made available for people to check in were limited. Worse was that the staff they had behind those desks were novice and kept asking one another what to do at every point in time,” Iyaniwura said.

He said he had some hand luggages he decided to check-in but was given conflicting amounts to pay.

“I bought a small suitcase for my things and decided to have a third baggage check which was supposed to cost 150 dollars to check-in. Air Peace gave me a ticket of 150 dollars to go and pay at the desk of the third party luggage operators.

“When I got there, they said it was 170 pounds. And I asked them how they can translate 150 dollars to 170 pounds? A lady stepped forward and introduced herself to me as an executive director of Air Peace. She offered to pay the difference and I refused. I saw the third party company trying to frustrate the efforts of Air Peace.

“The lady introduced herself as Nnenna Onyema. I found she was the daughter of the chairman of Air Peace. She was very professional and kind and she knows the job. When it comes to customer service and operations, she did the right thing and did everything by the books. I also met Toyin Olajide, COO of Air Peace. These ladies did all they could to make the flight operate on time.

“I saw how they had planned to frustrate those efforts. It was the night before the check-in that they communicated to Air Peace that they were changing the check-in desk. They changed it from a fully operational one to one that didn’t have an operational conveyor belt,” the passenger said.

He recalled that Arik, Medview and Bellview had tried the London route before and they were frustrated and closed shop.

He said the foreign airlines and British government do not want the Lagos-London route to succeed for a Nigerian airline operator because the route is very lucrative.

“It is a six-hour flight. When compared to London-New York, it is about 350 to 400 pounds for economy and 800 pounds for premium. For London-Lagos, the minimum is about 800 to 900 pounds for low season. High season, it cost almost 3,000 pounds and premium about 3,500 pounds.

“British Airways and Virgin were the only airlines doing direct flight from Lagos to London before Air Peace joined. The British government will do everything within their power to truncate the effort of any Nigerian carrier trying to break into that market. It is a government to government fight. It is a British government versus the Nigerian government fight,” Iyaniwura said.

He called on the government of Nigeria to support Air Peace by fighting aero politics on the route and reciprocate actions against the success of Air Peace on the route.