By Lawani Mikairu
The Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema has expressed shock at the report credited to him accusing the federal government of impoverishing Nigerian airlines, noting that such report was not done in good fate.
Onyema who granted interview to selected Nigerian journalists in Dubai to mark the inaugural flight of the airline at the weekend said that instead of criticizing government he actually commended the current administration that made it possible for the airline to grow and be able to operate international service.
He wondered what might have motivated the report when while fielding questions from journalists he commended government for removing tariff on aircraft spares for commercial operation and also 5 per cent VAT, which has saved domestic carriers billions of naira, adding that without the support of government there would not have been Air Peace airline today.
“I was shocked when I read that report and I dissociate myself from it. I know that journalists do interpretative reporting but I am convinced that the report was not done in good fate, recognizing the fact that I gave government credit many times in the course of the interview for the support it has given us and other airlines. I was shocked.
“I want the reporter to play the tape and show me where I made the statement, accusing government of impoverishing Nigerian airlines. So I totally dissociate myself from the report and I insist that it was not done in good fate,” he said.
During the interview, Onyema in response to a question on aero politics said, “Let me make this clear, Air Peace will never be able to combat international aeropolitics without the support of the government. We can only combat it if our government supports us. It is a shame that several Nigerian airlines have come here (Dubai) and they were pushed out either through unfair competition or some arm-twisting tactics, it is very unfair. The only plan we have is the plan of sustainability, to sustain our operations to the best of our abilities. There is so far we can go, if we are not being supported.”
The Air Peace boss reiterated during the interview that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has given support to the growth of indigenous investment and businesses, adding that without government’s support the airline would not have been able to acquire the number of aircraft it has acquired so far.