" ITREALMS: Why is Air Peace being nice to Nigeria? Asks Fred Chukwuelobe - ITREALMS

Friday, May 05, 2023

Why is Air Peace being nice to Nigeria? Asks Fred Chukwuelobe - ITREALMS

Commentary@ITREALMS ... making leadership SENSE with digital news!

"I mean, why is Chief Barr Allen Onyema wasting millions of naira airlifting Nigerians stranded in war-torn Sudan? Why is he not charging the country whose leaders budgeted about $1.2m for hired buses to drive through harm’s zone to bring our people home? Is it corporate social responsibility? What is it for?
Why is Air Peace being nice to Nigeria? Asks Fred Chukwuelobe - ITREALMS
I ask these questions for several reasons. Firstly, after watching the Air Peace boss on Arise television, I can’t understand why he has to do this. While he was busy helping Nigerians come back home safely and faster than the buses our government picked and paid, the NLC and the TUC were at the airlines counters across the country harassing its operations over a disagreement the unions had with the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma.

According to Onyema, while he was at the war front rescuing Nigerians from harm’s way, fellow Nigerians stopped the airlines business, costing it hundreds of millions of naira.

Air Peace Airlines has continued to receive bashings from its travelling public for constant cancellation of flights, rescheduling of flights to the discomfort of its passengers. From the explanations of the company, such developments were a result of force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract.) But the inconveniences to the flying public are huge that such excuses are hardly enough.

With the public relations challenges such cancellations and sudden rescheduling of flights pose for the airline, one is tempted to believe Air Peace seizes the opportunity to make amends; to create a positive image for itself; to be a responsible corporate organisation.

However, I still don’t understand why the same government, country and people the airlines has done its best to assist free of charge in times of crises – and it has done that many times – couldn’t rise up and protect it when it mattered most. Where were the security agencies when the Labour unions marched to Airpeace counters at the various airports across the country and grounded their operations, costing it over N700m? Why did Nigeria abandon a helper at its most trying times?

In the light of the above, I ask again, why is Allen Onyema helping a country that does not help businesses grow and prosper? Why?

I am a frequent flyer, and I use the airline most of the time. I am a witness to its inability to meet its contractual obligations to its flying publics. I understand why that happens. The aviation industry in Nigeria is in dire straits. The facilities available are inadequate, obsolete. The infrastructures are dilapidated and old. The apron is short and inadequate for aircraft to park, do quick turn around and keep to its flight schedules. Hence, partly why these sudden changes happen. Again, the airline has some explanations on its own to make. I do not see why it wants to fly ‘everywhere’ and cover the whole of Nigeria. I don’t know the reason why it wants to cover Nigeria and still cover the West African sub-region, China, Israel, Mumbai, South Africa, etc. So, I leave that decision to do so to the company.

However, it is appalling that while buses were allegedly paid handsomely by our government to make the tortuous journey of evacuating Nigerians from Sudan, Air Peace Airlines which made the evacuation faster, more comfortable, and free of charge could not be protected in times of crisis by the same government and country it set out to assist.

Till now, I am yet to read government’s response to the irresponsible and misdirected actions of the trade unions. From what I understand, they were upset with governor Uzodinma for whatever, and they opted to stop Airpeace from servicing Owerri, the Imo State capital. 

Meanwhile, other airlines servicing the Owerri route operated in and out unchallenged. And I ask again, why Air peace? What for? Is the governor the owner of the airline? Does he even have a stake in it?

Finally, it says a lot about this country that trade unions, the umbrella of workers unions, could breach the security of our airports with such ease. It is dangerous and unhealthy.

Air Peace may have annoyed many travellers with its constant flight rescheduling and often cancellations, but the treatment it got from the Nigerian government and Nigerians while it was helping the country, leaves much to be desired.

And I ask further, why should Allen Onyema want to help a country that cannot protect his business when the need arises?

I must also add that in the absence of a national carrier, Air Peace fills the gap. It is, therefore, a critical player in our aviation industry, and should be protected in the country’s interest.

*Fred Chukwuelobe a prolific writer is on Facebook can be reached.

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