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African Countries Not Friendly With Nigerian Airlines- Air Peace

Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyeama, has said that other African country’s attempt to protect their airlines business have adopted hostile attitudes to to foreign airlines despite the Single African Aviation Market.

Onyema decried the plights of domestic carries operating in the continent on Arise News programme, pointing that SAATM, is an African Union initiative that would ensure aviation plays a major role in connecting countries, promoting its social, economic and political integration and boosting intra-Africa trade and tourism as a result by 2063.

He said, “SAATM as it is called, you see the Single African Aviation Market, is a noble idea, no doubt about that, the Nigerian government has signed into it, noble idea, fantastic idea, it encourages connectivity all over Africa.

“It is more expensive to travel from Nigeria to Gabon or Nigeria to Niger, than to travel from Nigeria to UK. Sometimes, for you to go to Niamey, you have to go to Paris and connect.

The initiative has 32 member subscribed to it so far which represents 80 per cent of the continent’s aviation market.

But the Nigerian billionaire said it has not made obtaining licenses easy for Nigerian airlines.

Onyeame said, “The certainty is very noble, however, these other African countries are not obeying the rules, they try to stop Nigerian airlines from coming in. Nigeria allows them to come in, in obedience to the convention. However, in obedience to that treaty, in the other way round when you go to them.

“I remember applying to Ivory Coast, they will frustrate you. We applied to Togo, Togo said ‘we don’t want you to come’, because they want to protect their airlines.”

Onyema disclosed that he secured permit to operate in Togo after he threatened to get a court order to stop a Togolese carrier from landing in Nigeria.

He said, “Until I wanted to go to court to stop an airline coming from that place from coming into the country. That was when they said, okay we will give you permit.

“However, when they give you this permit, you over there to set up, the kind of bills and charges they will slam on you, is like paying about $10,000 each time you land.

“How many people are you carrying on that plane? So they frustrate you. However, our government is doing something about it.

For the aviation mogul, the Nigerian government on its part is being civil, but other African governments are not playing fair.

“What they (other African governments) are doing is illicit,” the CEO added.

Onyema explained that the government is gradually fighting back with the recent bans placed on some foreign airlines.

“If you do anything to the Nigerian side, they will give it back to you, reciprocity,” he said.

On how to compete with regional airlines like the Ethiopian Airline and Kenyan Airways, Onyema said, “Let me tell you something, Ethiopian Arline started flying since 1959 or thereabout. Ethiopian Airline celebrated their first 100 planes about two years ago. that is over 60 years of flying. Air Peace started in 2014, just six and half years.”

The Air Peace boss revealed that between 2014 to date, the airline has acquired 49 planes, adding that “it means that in the next ten years, we will overtake them.”

Onyema said, “If we continue doing what we are doing and continue getting the support of the government like we are getting now, that the government has given airlines zero duty levy, it has been signed into law.

“When we have parameters that supports aviation, Nigerian airlines will get there and overtake them, because we have the population here.”

According to him, the country has the travelling population which would drive the growth.

“We can be number one in Africa. I don’t mean Air Peace alone,” said Onyema.

He said the government has set a clear part for the countries aviation industry to thrive.

SOURCE : Oriental News

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