By Solomon Asowata
Lagos – Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, says it has capacity to operate its designated foreign routes but is being frustrated by international aero politics.
The Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Mrs Oluwatoyin Olajide, said this on Sunday in Lagos while reacting to criticism that the airline lacked capacity to begin operations on the designated foreign routes.
Olajide said Air Peace had capacity to operate into all destinations approved for it, announcing that the airline would launch its Dubai and Sharjah services before the end of the year.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government had given approval to Air Peace to begin long-haul flights to London, Guangzhou-China, Houston, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Dubai and Sharjah.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, had on Thursday at the 5th Aviation Stakeholders’ Forum in Abuja queried the airline’s inability to commence the operations months after securing two Boeing 777-200/300 ER for that purpose.
However, Olajide urged the Federal Government to protect its flag carriers by engaging in international aero politics with governments preventing Nigerian airlines from flying into their countries.
She said most countries the carrier had been designated to operate were either deliberately foot-dragging in processing its application or imposing frustrating conditions to discourage it from flying into their domains.
Olajide noted that some of the destination countries only responded to the airline’s application only after about two years.
“Where the destination countries reluctantly approved the airline’s application to fly into their domains, impossible charges were imposed to frustrate and discourage it from acting on such approval,” she said.
According to her, the high charges imposed on Nigerian airlines by other nations were unfortunately not reciprocated by federal government
“The foreign airlines are rather pampered in Nigeria and given approval to operate to multiple destinations,” Olajide said.
She dismissed claims that domestic airlines lacked the capacity to take advantage of the Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) Nigeria signed with different countries.
In demonstration of its capacity, she said, Air Peace was at the moment consistently operating into 14 domestic and five regional destinations, including Accra, Banjul, Dakar, Freetown and Monrovia.
She said that Air Peace had had directly offered jobs to more than 3,000 Nigerians, besides impacting the nation’s economy in many other respects in just four years of operations.