Stakeholders in various sector of the economy have raised their hopes that Nigeria’s largest carrier, AirPeace will sustain its new international route, Dubai via Sharjah.
The airline which commenced Sharjah operations on Friday, 5th of June, recorded over 85percent load factor on its inaugural flight to Sharjah, UAE and over 50percent load factor back to Lagos the following day.
Stakeholders say the load factors have never been recorded before during inaugural flights, adding that with the airline’s equipment, right funding and support from the government and the Nigerian people, the airline will sustain the route.
Speaking during a ceremony in Dubai to launch the route, Ken Okpara, general manager, Fidelity bank said he was confident the airline will sustain the new route because Allen Onyema, the chairman of the airline has proven himself to be a disciplined, passionate and determined entrepreneur and this is why Fidelity is strongly behind the bank.
“For us at Fidelity, we are quite excited because we have seen a very committed, passionate professional and shrewd entrepreneur in the person of Allen Onyema, who is spare heading the Air Peace vision. We have seen a dream come true. This is a function of the fact that if you believe strongly and you have a vision, with the right structure, you will be able to achieve whatever you are committed to. History is being made today.
“The partnership AirPeace has with Fidelity is one that is very enduring. It is not just like a bank-customer relationship. It has been there from the beginning and what is clear is that it is associated with the way Fidelity has come to do things over the period. We ensure the institution puts the right kind of structure in place. Beyond funding is the fact that we have been involved in advisory services, hand holding and providing the guidance,” Okara added.
He explained that aviation sector requires a high capital outlay and sadly a lot of lot of airlines have closed shop, adding that AirPeace has kept growing because it has the right structures, funding and equipment.
“For us as a bank, it is about helping AirPeace put the right kind of structure that will enable them not only remain sustainable but excel. We provide them the right kind of funding and put the right infrastructure in place. So, it is a total relationship and it is long term,” Okpara added.
Also speaking at the event, Mohammed Dansanta Rimi, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the UAE, urged the airline to offer good services to its customers, adding that on-time departure and arrival are key to sustaining the operations.
“The only thing government can do is to provide diplomatic and political support, I call on Nigerians to also support this airline,” Rimi said.
Allen Onyema stressed that if AirPeace must succeed on the Dubai route, Nigerian government must support it as the airline cannot do it alone.
“We can only do our best but the rest lies with government. Government must stop unfair competition in this sector. The USA government did it when the Gulf carriers swooped on them. The policy of multiple designations, multiple frequencies for foreign carriers are detrimental to our economy.
“Nigerian airlines will not grow under this policy. Government must help us grow the sector and not stifle it but I know the President is a nationalist who is ready to support Nigerian carriers. Aviation is a very tough business, I plead with Nigerians and the government to support Air Peace. We promise to give Nigerians modern equipment and unparalleled services”, he said.
Reham Mustafa, country manager, Air Peace in UAE, expressed happiness that the plans to create jobs for people became a reality on Saturday, pledging the airline’s unwavering and quality services.
IFEOMA OKEKE in Dubai