How Air Peace’s Lagos-London Flights’ll Force Foreign Airlines To Reduce Airfares- Expert

After Another Air Peace Dust: Ethno-religious Profiling As Nigeria’s Albatross

2 months ago
4 mins read

In November 2023, Air Peace announced that it had secured a permit to operate flights from Nigeria to Europe. The airline chose Gatwick airport in London. So, on March 30, air transport in Nigeria reached an important milestone, with the resumption of Nigeria-London flight operations. This time, Allen Onyeama’s Air Peace extended its cultural tendency to breaking fresh grounds by launching the flight as a flag carrier. The Gatwick flight ended a seven-year wait for a Nigerian carrier to do so since Med-View in 2017.

Unfortunately, while the euphoria lasted, Nigerians quickly embraced their natural inclination to ethic profiling, which is the bane of the post-independence Nigeria. The apparel worn by the crew of Air Peace, known to be popularized by the Igbo, became a subject of debate, hate speech and swearing.

Analysis by many commentators tended to suggest that Air Peace seems to be the headache of some unseen hands bent on causing it troubles. Experts have sounded alarms as an early warning to aviation authorities, who must cooperate with airlines generally in Nigeria to address what may be infighting, which does not augur well for any airline anywhere in the world. Nigeria has maintained a record of airline safety for over 10 years, and this must not be desecrated.

In December 2023, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress beat security lines to disrupt the flight operations of the Air Peace in Lagos. The result was a loss of seven hundred million naira due to flight cancellations, according to the Chief Executive of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, who literally wept over the curious activities of the NLC and TUC. Such activities were capable of worsening Nigeria’s security records and detracting from the air safety records of the country, especially with regard to the hundreds of international passengers that patronize Nigerian airlines daily.

 

Air Peace and National Pride

From a handful of aircraft a few years ago, Air Peace has grown to be one of the airlines with the most air planes in Nigeria. As a private business in a competitive terrain, the airline is bound to draw the ire of rivals. In the midst of it, Air Peace has associated itself with some sense of national pride. And Nigeria has benefitted in many ways as the airline has tried to show its love for the country. On the unfortunate activities of the NUC and TUC mentioned above, Mr Onyeama had duly reminded the two labour bodies of their misplaced aggression on an airline that had expended millions of naira to rescue Nigerians from the war front in Sudan and from xenophobia in South Africa.

Recall that the NLC’s and TUC’s melodrama came on the same day over 280 Nigerians, hitherto stranded in war-torn Sudan, touched down in Abuja courtesy of Air Peace, which also displayed such rare courage and patriotism when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

It should bother the traducers of Air Peace that the country needs to take its pride of place among airlines in Africa, and Air Peace is fighting for the space. Since 2018, over 10 million passengers travel through Nigeria’s domestic and international airports yearly, making it one of Africa’s busiest routes. Since 2022, air transport has jumped 45%, from just above 10 million to over 15 million passengers. Unfortunately, Nigeria remains outside the top 10 highest earning airlines in Africa, with a non-african airline, Emirates, as the highest earner.

We must be Nigerians, not just ethnicities fighting for relevance.

The presidency, natural resource ownership and exploration, federal appointments, federal contracts, employment opportunities for graduates, national security architecture, etc. These issues are hotbeds of religio-ethic profiling, for which Nigeria is known worldwide. At times, it seems as if such profiling has become an opportunity for Nigeria’s international competitors and economic partners to divide and continue to rule the country.

It is mainly crass ethnicity that makes Nigerians not to ask questions about a country’s national carrier with 20 planes by the 1950s, but effectively dead by 1999, ridden with debts. Between 2015 and 2023, the country had sunk a princely N85.42 billion to get a national carrier. After an eight-year wait, the country finally unveiled its flagship airline on May 26, 2023. But, just after landing in Abuja, an airplane, with a bold inscription, Nigeria Air, was identified by pundits as owned by the Ethiopian Airlines, borrowed for a few hours of pomp to act as Nigeria’s own airline. Expert analysis so far about the deals surrounding the airline gave Nigeria away as a butt of jokes.

READ ALSO: Air Peace Makes More Seats Available On London Route As Demand Spikes 

Air Peace is Mitigating the Shame of a National Carrier for Nigeria

With the London flight, Air Peace immediately brought competition to bear on that international route, causing a plunge in flight costs from four million naira to 1.2 million naira. Without doubt, Air Peace has been locked in efforts to address lingering problems of flight delays, and costly local fares. However, as a flag carrier, Air Peace is restoring pride to the Nigeria air travel arena, and clearly demonstrating that privatization is the way to go in such businesses. So far, Air Peace has displayed a tradition of top-notch services on board, according to those who travelled with the airline on the Gatwick flight. Ethnic profiling should be far from these landmarks.

Those who know well say that the main fabric with which various ethnicities in Nigeria sow their avowed cultural attires come from abroad. As such, who really owns the attires? Such questions should bother Nigerians, not ethnophobia. Also to bother Nigerians are issues of treatment of passengers on board, cost of air fares, safety record, and service records. These determine patronage of airlines far more than the outfit of crews. Rather than ethnic bickering, the country should rally against cyber security. No sooner did the Air Peace launch the Gatwick operations on March 30 than the airline, Tuesday April 2, alerted the public to the activities of internet fraudsters, who had cloned the website of the airline to defraud customers. How much have we discussed these clear threats to air safety? They are early warning signals.

 

Dr Mbamalu, a Jefferson Fellow, is an Editor, Publisher and Communications Consultant. Follow on X: @marcelmbamalu

Dr. Marcel Mbamalu is a communication scholar, journalist and entrepreneur. He holds a Ph.D in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and is the Chief Executive Officer Newstide Publications, the publishers of Prime Business Africa.

A seasoned journalist, he horned his journalism skills at The Guardian Newspaper, rising to the position of News Editor at the flagship of the Nigerian press. He has garnered multidisciplinary experience in marketing communication, public relations and media research, helping clients to deliver bespoke campaigns within Nigeria and across Africa.

He has built an expansive network in the media and has served as a media trainer for World Health Organisation (WHO) at various times in Northeast Nigeria. He has attended numerous media trainings, including the Bloomberg Financial Journalism Training and Reuters/AfDB training on Effective Coverage of Infrastructural Development of Africa.

A versatile media expert, he won the Jefferson Fellowship in 2023 as the sole Africa representative on the program. Dr Mbamalu was part of a global media team that covered the 2020 United State’s Presidential election. As Africa's sole representative in the 2023 Jefferson Fellowships, Dr Mbamalu was selected to tour the United States and Asia (Japan and Hong Kong) as part of a 12-man global team of journalists on a travel grant to report on inclusion, income gaps and migration issues between the US and Asia.

Dr. Marcel Mbamalu is a communication scholar, journalist and entrepreneur. He holds a Ph.D in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and is the Chief Executive Officer Newstide Publications, the publishers of Prime Business Africa.

A seasoned journalist, he horned his journalism skills at The Guardian Newspaper, rising to the position of News Editor at the flagship of the Nigerian press. He has garnered multidisciplinary experience in marketing communication, public relations and media research, helping clients to deliver bespoke campaigns within Nigeria and across Africa.

He has built an expansive network in the media and has served as a media trainer for World Health Organisation (WHO) at various times in Northeast Nigeria. He has attended numerous media trainings, including the Bloomberg Financial Journalism Training and Reuters/AfDB training on Effective Coverage of Infrastructural Development of Africa.

A versatile media expert, he won the Jefferson Fellowship in 2023 as the sole Africa representative on the program. Dr Mbamalu was part of a global media team that covered the 2020 United State’s Presidential election. As Africa's sole representative in the 2023 Jefferson Fellowships, Dr Mbamalu was selected to tour the United States and Asia (Japan and Hong Kong) as part of a 12-man global team of journalists on a travel grant to report on inclusion, income gaps and migration issues between the US and Asia.

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