NEWS

Air Peace Chair Accuses Foreign Airlines Of ‘Devilish Conspiracy’ For Price Reductions

Allen Onyema, the Chairman of Nigerian-based airline Air Peace, has expressed concern that foreign airlines operating the Nigeria-UK route are colluding to force Air Peace out of international operations by significantly reducing airfares on the route.

On Channels Television’s Politics Today program, Onyema voiced his dissatisfaction, suggesting there’s an implicit agreement among foreign carriers to undercut Air Peace and dominate the Nigeria-London route.

“If they take out Air Peace prematurely, this country will pay dearly for it, 10 times over, billions will be lost, there will be another heavy strain on the naira,” he said.

On March 30, 2024, Air Peace responded to the one-sided Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and the United Kingdom by initiating direct flights from Lagos to Gatwick Airport in London.

The inaugural Lagos-London flight saw the presence of the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, and the Minister of Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anita, alongside various business figures.

This development has garnered praise from numerous industry observers, who advocate for more local airlines to venture into international flights, particularly on profitable routes.

Previously, the cost of an international flight ticket on the Lagos-London route soared to as high as N3.5 million. However, with Air Peace offering return economy class tickets for N1.2 million, foreign airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar Airways have been compelled to lower their prices to remain competitive.

The Air peace boss said foreign airlines operating the route “are fighting back”. “We are being deliberately frustrated in all ways,” he said, citing groundhandling and space allocation difficulties at Gatwick Airport in the last couple of days.

“It’s a very devilish conspiracy,” said a dissatisfied Onyema. “All of a sudden, (foreign) airlines are underpricing, below the cost, it’s not up to one month, an airline was advertising $100, another one $305, $350. Fill up the entire aircraft and carry people on the wings, it’s not even enough to buy your fuel. So, why are they doing that? Their governments are supporting them because Nigeria has been a cashcow for everybody.

“Their governments are supporting them to do this and take Air Peace out. The idea is to take Air Peace out and the moment they succeed in taking Air Peace out, Nigerians will pay 20 times over again.”

The airline executive encourages other Nigerian airlines to enter the Nigeria-UK route to disrupt the monopoly currently held by foreign carriers operating in the four primary gateway airports of Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt.

“I invite other Nigerian airlines to join the fray, let them come, let all of us do international operations. Yes, international aeropolitics is very dirty but somebody must pay the price,” he said.

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