By Samson Echenim
- Links high fares to absence of domestic carriers on international routes
Allen Onyema, the head huncho at Air Peace, West Africa’s largest airline has given one major insight into why fares charged by international carriers coming to Nigeria are comparatively high.
According to Onyema, the absence of Nigerian carriers on international routes should be blamed for such unfriendly fares.
Onyema, who called for support for Nigerian airlines from the federal government, said the airlines in Nigeria need to understand the game, compliment their comparative strengths to enable them water the obstacles provided by foreign governments and airlines in a bid to keep them from spreading.
Onyema told journalists that there was a very pressing need for protection and support for Nigerian airlines as competing foreign airlines keep seeking to control the markets.
The Air Peace boss stressed that his airline was already doing something towards correcting the fare anomaly against Nigerian travellers on international routes.
«You pay more to Europe from Nigeria which is just six hours away while South Africa, which is nine hours away pay less. Same thing with Dubai and we are looking to change that. We are looking to correct the fare anomaly, « he said.
He continued, “We have done so even with a reduced but fair fare to Nigerians. Nigerians are surprised that for economy tickets they are paying as low as N180,000 while for business class, that is between N1.5 million to N1.8 million on some airlines that ply this route. We are charging N650,000 and our First Class is N850,000. You cannot get it anywhere. Even as we speak, people are surprised we are flying to Dubai and have our full flights.
«We plan to do so on some other routes because Nigerians are getting the raw end of the stick. We intend to ensure that this airline serves the people diligently and the truth is that some people do not know what we offer and so we need to put it out there more. A man came to me and shook my hands saying this was the first time he travelled with his family on Business Class because of our amazing fares, this warmed my heart.”
He lauded Aero Contractors over the maintenance checks which the airline is providing in Nigeria.
«We carried out nine C-Checks in 2019 and that cost us millions of dollars and downtown in operations, but Aero is already doing a good job in maintenance. We do some of our small maintenance at Aero and we think they are doing well. Airlines all over Africa can come in, use the facility and Aero will grow. If we did all our C-Checks at Aero we would have saved a lot in funds and down time and so Aero needs the capacity to grow and do more. Nigerian airlines need to support Aero to enable it carry out D-Checks,» he said.
On the carrier’s sustainability, Onyema said the airline, which supports no fewer than 3,200 jobs currently will continue to thrive as there is no other way to keep Nigerians off the streets and away from bad vices.
He said, «Nothing will happen to the airline because this is a legacy, it is not about how much a person has but what matters is what he is remembered by. And you know that no matter how rich you are the fastest way to become poor is to float an airline but I am happy and glad when I look at the faces of those people who work here.
«The lives we are touching, the families by extension. It is not about what we make and the truth is we are praying for the airline daily because see the workforce it supports, of 3, 200 if these ones lose they jobs and many of them are virile and agile, imagine what they may turn to? And so it is my joy to see these people off the streets and gainfully employed.
«In some countries, as employers, if you have a workforce of about 30-50 they treat you with respect and provides you with support this is not done here and we urge this so we can protect the jobs, reduce crime and have a saner society.»
Finance November 3, 2019