• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria sky a battleground for airfare supremacy

Israel versus Iran: Drum of imminent global war

By Rotimi S. Bello

In the competitive arena of international air travel, Nigeria’s Air Peace has made a bold move that has sent ripples through the industry. The airline’s aggressive pricing strategy on the Lagos-London route has forced a dramatic response from established foreign airlines, igniting a fierce price war with far-reaching implications. If we don’t blow our trumpet, nobody will blow it for us.

The recent outing of the Air Peace to London route has caused serious collateral damage for the international airlines that patronised Nigerian routes to different places in the world. Offering round-trip economy tickets at costs significantly lower than its competitors, Air Peace entered the lucrative Lagos-London corridor with a dramatic reduction in fares. This strategic move not only provided Nigerian travellers with a more affordable option but also challenged the status quo of international airfare pricing in the region.

Surprisingly, the international airlines responded with vigour and severity. To maintain their market share, major airlines like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Royal Air Maroc, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and Emirates lowered their prices—some by more than half. This sudden drop in prices, while beneficial for consumers in the short term, raises concerns about the long-term sustainability of such low fares and their potential impact on service quality.

Although the international airlines credit improved foreign currency rates and the freeing of funds held in their systems for the fare cut, During his response to the news of sudden airfare cuts by foreign airlines, Air Peace CEO Allen Onyema stated that the move by the airline is a strategic goal to eliminate the Nigerian airline from the market. This accusation points to a larger issue of market dominance and the lengths to which established players will go to maintain their position. Nigerians are paying close attention to the situation, with many considering backing for Air Peace to be essential for the country. The airline’s success on international routes is seen not only as a business triumph but also as a matter of national pride and economic progress.

Indeed, Allen Onyema’s audacity is highly commendable, and he deserved the altruistic support of all Nigerians, both home and abroad, in its entirety. The Hausa will say “Namu ne,” Igbo will say “Nke Anyi,” meaning “our own,” and Yoruba will say “Teni ni teni, akisa ni ti atan,” meaning “what belongs to us is ours; rags are meant for landfills.” All these figuratively meant that “if you don’t value what is yours, never expect an outsider to value it.” The fact remains that air peace is our beautiful pride that must be protected with all the arsenal in our pouch.

As the dust settles on this latest industry skirmish, the question remains: Can Air Peace sustain its momentum in the face of such aggressive competition? And what will be the long-term effects of this price war on Nigeria’s aviation sector and its travellers? The answers to these questions will unfold over time, but one thing is clear: the skies above Nigeria have become a battleground for airfare supremacy, and the outcome will shape the future of air travel in the region.

In the face of fierce competition in the Nigerian aviation market, Air Peace can employ several strategies to not only survive but thrive in this challenging landscape. It can differentiate itself by offering unique services or amenities that set it apart from competitors.

This could include superior customer service, quick refund policies on cancelled flights, innovative in-flight experiences, or exclusive partnerships with other companies to provide added value to passengers. Improving the overall customer experience can help Air Peace stand out in a crowded market. This could involve investing in modern aircraft with advanced amenities, streamlining the booking and check-in process, and offering personalised services to cater to the needs of different passenger segments.

As was suggested by many public affairs analysts, by expanding its route network, Air Peace can reach new markets and tap into previously underserved regions. This could involve adding new domestic routes within Nigeria or expanding internationally to serve popular destinations in Africa and beyond. As the CEO promised to start flying Air Peace to the U.S.A. in the last quarter of this year, I admonished him to consider Canada as well because it is the new destination for Nigerian immigrants.

Also, ensuring the safety and reliability of its operations is paramount for Air Peace. By maintaining a strong safety record and consistently providing reliable service, the airline can build trust and confidence among passengers, ultimately driving customer loyalty and repeat business.

Again, investing in marketing and branding efforts can help Air Peace enhance its visibility and attract more passengers. This could include targeted advertising campaigns, strategic partnerships with travel agencies and online booking platforms, and leveraging social media to engage with customers and build brand awareness.

Invariably, considering Air Peace’s impressive trajectory and its position as a leading player in the aviation sector in Nigeria, I believe there’s significant value in exploring the possibility of listing the company on the stock exchange. By taking this step, Air Peace could not only attract a broader base of investors but also gain access to additional capital for expansion, technological advancements, and strategic initiatives. Listing on the stock exchange could offer numerous benefits, including increased visibility, enhanced liquidity for existing shareholders, and greater credibility in the eyes of customers, partners, and stakeholders. Moreover, it would provide an opportunity for investors to participate in Air Peace’s success story and share in the company’s future growth.

Rotimi S. Bello, a public commentator, writes from Canada.