Air Peace battled local, foreign obstacles over Lagos-London flight -Allen Onyema

Allen Onyema, chief executive officer (CEO) of Air Peace,
says the airline faced internal and external obstacles before it could commence
Lagos-London flight operation.


Air Peace, Nigeria’s flag carrier, on March 30, commenced
its Lagos-London flight services.


According to Onyema, during an interview with Arise TV on
Monday, it took seven years to be able to commence operation.


“We got the designation about 6 and a half years ago to go
into London. Since then, it has been a cat-and-mouse game,” Onyema said.


 “We actually procured
our three-triple seven because of this route, not for any other route because
we wanted to give it the blow that it deserved at that time.


“However, we were not allowed to. Whether you like it or
not, there is what we call international aero-politics which is very dirty. We
applied for the third-country operators (TCO). You must get that one before you
start going into any European country, UK inclusive.”



Onyema said the TCO organisation from Europe wrote the
Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), asking if the agency knew Air Peace and
its designation but the regulator “denied” the airline.


“My country denied us. So, they tweaked back. We went back
to the NCAA and they said we did not tell them. Who designated us? The federal
ministry of aviation whose duty it was and it still is to do that,” he said.


According to Onyema, the airline was ready “but they (NCAA)
said until they allow us apply”.


“We got designation from the federal government and the
NCAA, under the same federal government that was telling me that you should not
make any application going into the UK,” he said.


This, he said, was despite obtaining licences to fly to
China and India.


Onyema said NCAA does not find the airline worthy to fly to
the UK, even though it is doing “over 160 hours of flying (unblemished) daily”
in the country.


“No other airline in Central Western Africa does that much.
So, the game is both from within and without. We were stopped. I’ll never stop
saying it,” he said.


“So, we continued this cat and mouse game with the NCAA
until Captain Musa Nuhu during his time said enough is now enough. Air Peace
must be allowed to go in. What’s the issue? When the heat became so much, they
told us to prove to them that we will be able to pass the TCO.


 “If I don’t pass the
TCO, it doesn’t mean anything, then I’ll leave. But allow me to go. They said
we must prove to them that we will be able to pass the TCO. I said you come and
audit us based on the TCO standard.


“They said we have to get consultancy firms from IATA to do
that and IATA must conduct that and give their results. We paid a cost of over
200 million. We brought IATA and IATA conducted it.”


Onyema said Air Peace passed the test, subsequently writing
to NCAA to approve the process to do an audit with the TCO Europe.


He said the TCO did not respond for over a year until the
airline threatened to go to the press if their response was not gotten.


Meanwhile, he said the country is being fleeced by all the
airlines “going to London from this place”.


Onyema said people were paying five times more than they
should have been paying for flights.



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