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How Air Peace defies predictions on survival, success 7yrs after

Nigeria’s aviation sector over the years has had a track record of having airlines that barely survive and excel for five years, after which airline revenues begin to dwindle, while the carrier shows signs of closing shop.

Experts say the aviation sector is replete with challenges contending with the survival of airlines such as high foreign exchange rate, lack of Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) facilities, multiple taxations, high insurance costs and high cost of aviation fuel amongst others.

Investigations show that in the last 25 years, over 30 airlines have closed shop in Nigeria as a result of these factors.

Daniel Young, an aviation analyst, noted aside from the above factors some of which are beyond the control of airlines, there is a growing sense of entitlement among airlines that needs to be curbed; because it provides the basis for their continued epileptic financial performance.

Young said some local carriers see the federal government as the first and only resort when in need of cash.

Other experts say airlines that failed wouldn’t have if they kept correct books subject to scrutiny.

Some of the defunct airlines over the years include ADC Airlines, African International Airways, African Trans Air, Afrijet Airlines, Afrimex, Air Atlantic Cargo, Albarka Air, Al-Dawood Air, Arax Airlines, Barnax Air, Bellview Airlines, Capital Airlines, Central Airlines, Chanchangi Airlines, Chrome Air Service, Dasab Airlines, Earth Airlines, EAS Airlines, Easy Link Aviation, First Nation Airways, Freedom Air Services, GAS Air Nigeria, Hamzair, Harco Air Services, Intercontinental Airlines, Kabo Air, Meridian Airlines, Nicon Airways, Nigeria Airways, Okada Air, Pan African Airlines, Skypower Express Airways, Sosoliso Airlines, Trans-Air Services, Triax Airlines, UAS Cargo, Virgin Nigeria and Wings Aviation.

It is against these premises that some experts said if Air Peace toed the path of other domestic carriers, the challenging factors already existing in the aviation sector may compound its challenges, which may affect its operations.

Seven years down the line, Air Peace is the largest carrier in Nigeria, expanding its footprints in Nigeria and outside Nigeria with increasing fleet size.

Despite the challenges it has faced operating in an environment where airlines rarely survive beyond five years; Air Peace is an unprecedented success story in the last seven years of operating in Nigeria.

Step by step, the airline has seen an expansion in fleet capacity, especially its brand new Embraer jets, it has increased its local and international route operations, rendered service to Nigeria through CSRs and evacuations flights and has contributed to the employment of Nigerians and staff welfare.

Certainly, Air Peace has become the backbone of Nigerian Aviation.

Why Air Peace remains sustainable

Experts have said Air Peace has been able to survive in a challenging business environment because of its doggedness and financial discipline.

Stanley Olisa, the airline’s spokesperson said before the airline commenced operations, it had a solid blueprint to sustainably provide seamless, affordable and peaceful connectivity for Nigerians first, and the entire African continent.

“Our business strategy was future-proof and we thoroughly researched the market dynamics as well as factored the factors that usually account for the untimely demise of airlines in Nigeria.

“And even as we set sail in 2014, we have continued to strategically adjust to the evolving realities of the market and industry while expanding in furtherance of our Vision to serve Nigerians better,” Olisa said.

Read also: Ibom Air to spend N138bn on 10 new A220 planes

According to him, Air Peace’s founder, Allen Onyema, a visionary entrepreneur, and indeed the entire management team of the airline had every operational initiative planned out from the outset, to ensure the airline flies at the top of Sub-Saharan Africa’s aviation terrain and sustains that position through consistent route expansion, strategic fleet acquisition and critical manpower development.

“In just seven years of operation, Air Peace has had significant milestones and has become an industry leader in all facets of growth– route network, fleet size and workforce,” he said.

Fidelity Bank Nigeria Plc also commended the financial discipline of Nigeria’s major airline, Air Peace.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, the managing director, Fidelity Bank Plc, said when the airline disclosed its plans to buy 13 brand new aircraft from Embraer, she thought it was a joke, knowing how much these aircraft could cost, but the bank worked with the airline to actualise that objective.

Onyeali-Ikpe said since Air Peace started doing business with the bank seven years ago, the airline has exhibited high fiscal discipline and prudence that has prompted the bank to go with the domestic carrier as far as it wants to go.

She assured that the bank would continue to collaborate with the airline and would work with it all the way, adding that the bank was very happy with the airline’s successes.

“It is a major success for a local player to have the level of financial discipline that this company has. So I commend you, and we will work with you all the way to any level that you want,” she said.

In about six years of operations, Air Peace airline has proven to be a credible partner in project Nigeria. Allen Onyema, the Chairman of Air Peace has demonstrated the nexus between the indigenous company and national development.

Speaking on plans to remain sustainable on international routes, and specifically, the Dubai route, Allen Onyema, chairman, Air Peace said that the airline signed an interline agreement with a company that it will distribute its passengers with Air Arabia to onward destinations from Dubai.

The airline which has sustained its Johannesburg route has revealed plans to start Guangzhou and London routes soon, adding that before the end of the year, it plans to increase its B777 fleet to six.

“We are already looking for a partner airline to aid our South Africa operations. We want to have an alliance with other airlines to succeed. We are close to signing the agreement. The next is India. The Federal Government has written to the Indian government and they have told it what to do. We must employ their citizen, with military experience, as chief security officers for the flight. We are planning to discuss with Air India for partnership.

“The next route would be Guangzhou. China will not allow an airline to operate without the necessary equipment and aircraft. You must show tail registration of your aircraft; so, we have presented our papers to their government. Before the end of the year, we would have six Boeing 777,” Onyema said.

Fleet expansion/Creating job opportunities

For every aircraft deployed into the Nigerian air space, there are job opportunities created for pilots, engineers, crew members, ground handlers, government agencies, air traffic controllers and security officials, amongst others.

As part of its plans to expand domestic, regional and international operations, Air Peace recently received its 4th Embraer 195-E2 aircraft.

The airline would receive additional three brand new 195-E2 aircraft which would join the airline fleet before the end of 2021, as it plans to also take delivery of all the 13 Embraer 195-E2 aircraft it placed a firm order for from Embraer Aircraft Manufacturing Company in Brazil by the end of 2022.

As the airline continues to deploy more aircraft, it creates more employment opportunities.

The airline says it wants to make connectivity easy for Nigerians by interconnecting all cities in Nigeria so as to energize the country and provide jobs, noting that the 195-E2 plane can land where Boeing 737 cannot land because of its unique technology.

Air Peace had earlier set a domestic record as the first Nigerian airline to acquire and register the Boeing 777 aircraft in the country.

Three of the four wide-body aircraft it acquired for its long-haul operations to Dubai, Sharjah, Johannesburg, London, Houston, Guangzhou and Mumbai had so far been delivered.

Service to Nigeria through CSR

As companies and organisations ramp up their focus on social responsibility in a bid to pursue achievable and good long-term goals for its people and the world at large, Air Peace is also not left out as it gives back to its society and employees, thereby fostering a more productive and positive work environment for employees.

The airline recently increased its staff salaries across board.

Some of the workers said that what was surprising about the increase was that it came when many companies are laying off staff, especially businesses that are aviation-related due to the economic downturn occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Air Peace recently signed a sponsorship deal worth N300 million with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), on Wednesday, making it the official airline sponsor of Nigerian national teams.

Allen Onyema said the deal is for four years but will commence with one year, after which it will be renewed.

The airline recently collaborated with Gulder Ultimate Search, Nigerian Breweries Plc, on its 12th season of the survival reality show.

The unique collaboration saw the Nigerian foremost airline join forces with Gulder Ultimate Search to reward the winner and contestants with exciting prizes when the show premieres on screens in October 2021 for the 12th season.

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