April 11, 2024

Fare cut: Air Peace chair, Onyema slams foreign airlines over ‘conspiracy’

Fare cut: Air Peace chair, Onyema slams foreign airlines over ‘conspiracy’

By Juliet Umeh

The chairman of Nigeria flag carrier, Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has raised the alarm that foreign carriers operating the Nigeria-UK route were allegedly conspiring to send his airline out of international operations by crashing airfares on the route.

According to him, there is an “unspoken alliance” among foreign airlines to use lower pricing to eject Air Peace from the Nigeria-London route.

Onyema, who disclosed this in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Tuesday night, said:  “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,”

Recall that the price of international flight ticket on the Lagos-London route was as high as N3.5million but with Air Peace pegging a return economy class ticket for N1.2m, foreign airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar Airways, have been forced to slash their prices to stay competitive.

The Air peace boss said the foreign airlines operating the route “are fighting back”, noting that “we are being deliberately frustrated in all ways.”

READ ALSO: Fare cut: Air Peace chair, Onyema slams foreign airlines over ‘conspiracy’

He cited groundhandling and space allocation at Gatwick Airport in the last couple of days as some of the ways Air Peace was being frustrated.

“It’s a very devilish conspiracy.  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 cash-cow 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,” Onyema said.

He invited other Nigerian airlines to join the Nigeria-UK route to break the monopoly hitherto enjoyed by foreign carriers operating into the four major gateway airports of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

He said:  “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.

Onyema expressed appreciation to President Bola Tinubu and the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, for being “solidly behind” Air Peace, even as the airline navigates the politics side of operating to London.

Also recall that on March 30, 2024, Air Peace reciprocated the lopsided Bilateral Air Service Agreement, BASA, between Nigeria and the United Kingdom when the local airline began direct flight operations from Lagos to Gatwick Airport in London.

The Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, and his counterpart at the Trade and Investment Ministry, Doris Uzoka-Anita, were onboard the inaugural Lagos-London flight alongside businessmen and women.