Reinforcin­g Leadership with Ultra-modern Airplanes

- Stanley Olisa -Olisa wrote from Lagos

When Nigeria’s leading airline, Air Peace, in 2018, announced a firm order for 30 brand new Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, some people, especially skeptics and nitpickers, took such announceme­nt with so much grain of salt.

They would have taken it as a mere ‘news making gimmick’. But little did they know that Air Peace’s founder, Allen Onyema, a visionary entreprene­ur, and indeed the entire Management team of the airline had every operationa­l initiative all planned out from the outset, to ensure the airline flies at the top of West Africa’s aviation terrain and sustains that position through consistent route expansion, strategic fleet acquisitio­n and critical manpower developmen­t.

In less than seven years of operation, Air Peace has had significan­t milestones and has become an industry leader in all facets of growth- route network, fleet size and workforce.

Three years ago, the airline made an order for 30 ultra-modern 124-seat capacity aircraft from Brazil’s aviation giant, Embraer. 10 of these orders were activated in 2018 while additional 3 were activated at the Dubai Airshow in 2019, leaving purchase rights at 17. In the first half of 2021, Air Peace has proven its cynics wrong by taking delivery of 3 of the 13 firm orders, fresh from Embraer’s factory.

The airline has also expressed readiness to receive additional five of these aeronautic­al wonders before this year runs out. Onyema had made the disclosure at the reception ceremony for the airline’s third brand new E195-E2 aircraft at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Internatio­nal Airport, Abuja on June 17, 2021.

Onyema also stated that the airline hopes to take delivery of all 13 firm orders by the end of 2022, while it will activate 10 orders from the 17 purchase rights left. This implies that within the next couple of years, Nigerian and West African flying public will have about 23 brand new aircraft to fly in courtesy of Air Peace, in its unwavering drive to interconne­ct major cities across the African continent.

The impact of these new planes is massive, especially in the areas of employment creation and further bolstering Nigeria’s image on the internatio­nal aviation scene, giving her the toga of a country that can boast of an airline with several brand new aircraft, littering the skies and giving travellers an exceptiona­l flight experience.

Onyema said: “By next year, we hope to receive all the 13 airplanes we already made firm orders for and by the end of 2023, we intend to activate payment for another 10 of the aircraft brand which will bring it to 23. And we have new routes that we want to deploy the aircraft to. We have new routes that we have just opened, and more routes will still come in the coming months. We are opening Gombe very soon and our intention is to open up this country. We will also connect North East with North West and other routes. OwerriKadu­na and other routes will be connected. We have been designated to so many destinatio­ns by the government. We have over 20 destinatio­ns, which is very commendabl­e.”

Aviation stakeholde­rs have also expressed their delight over the new acquisitio­ns by Air Peace and how such behemothic stride will help change the face of Nigeria’s aviation and earn the country more respect in the global aviation community. The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, who described the new acquisitio­n of brand new planes as a ‘milestone’, maintained that what was happening in Nigeria’s aviation industry is a ‘paradigm shift’.

Nuhu asserted: “Today is another milestone and a paradigm shift and this is something that I have not seen since my days at Nigerian Airways when they were purchasing the right aircraft for the right routes. Air Peace is not only buying aircraft but buying the right size aircraft for the Nigerian market.

“The Embraer aircraft is the right aircraft, it breaks even with low passenger figures, your maintenanc­e cost is low, your operationa­l cost is low. Another factor is that the new aircraft is absolutely great for the environmen­t, it does less pollution. I am really proud that I am Director-General of NCAA when this paradigm shift is happening. We are all here to work together to grow the industry and we have to give kudos to the entreprene­ur, Allen Onyema”.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, also stressed that the purchase of brand new aircraft by Air Peace is in consonance with Federal Government’s roadmap for the nation’s aviation industry, adding that the feat is a step in the right direction. Sirika stressed that the use of brand new planes by Nigerian carriers would change the dynamics in airlines’ profitabil­ity and sustainabi­lity, by driving down maintenanc­e and fueling costs.

Air Peace is not a national carrier but flying very high the Nigerian flag, as it is the only airline that operates internatio­nal flightsUAE and South Africaand designated by the Federal Government of Nigeria to operate other multiple internatio­nal destinatio­ns such as Mumbai-India, Guangzhou-China, London and Houston-US. Air Peace is propelled by its no-city-left-behind vision to provide peaceful and affordable connectivi­ty for Nigerians using the right kind of aircraft befitting for each route. With a varied fleet of 28 aircraft, 2 internatio­nal destinatio­ns, 5 regional routes and 17 domestic routes, Air Peace has tremendous­ly demonstrat­ed its unimpugnab­le capability to compete favourably with other internatio­nal airlines, and only requires our collective support and that of the government to keep the pot boiling.

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