[ACCI-CAVIE] Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) denied speculations that Nigerian airlines are afraid of competition over their opposition to the partnership of Ethiopian airlines with Nigeria Air.
While answering questions as the guest of the African Airlines Association’s, (AFRAA) February 2023 edition of the monthly “AFRAA Sky Connect Leadership Dialogues session,” Vice President of AON and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said the Federal Government must always strive to protect local operators.
Onyema who was explaining why the AON took the FG to court over its deal with Ethiopian airline, said local airlines are not scared of competition but crave fairness and transparency in all business dealings by both government and private initiatives that would be prospecting in the air transport sector of the national economy. He further explained that he is very mindful of being in contempt of the court hence, would not dwell on any issue pertaining to Nigeria Air.
The AON Vice President called on AFRAA leadership to wade into Air Peace airline’s funds trapped especially in Cameroon, including some regional destinations like Gambia, Gabon Sierra-Leon, and Togo, where ticket sales are yet to be repatriated in addition to the prohibitive charges from the government of most of the states in West Africa.
He further said some members of AON had formed an alliance named, “Spring Alliance” in order to render impeccable aviation services to travelers, and cargo handlers and to make for ease of service delivery by the airliners.
When asked why Air Peace, has not leveraged the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), to boost its regional and continental operations, Onyema said that those trade treaties were fantastic in their letters and spirit, both for SAATM and AfCFTA but, the slug he emphasised was the insincerity of the sovereign states to make the treaties work.
He cited the experience Air Peace had with a neighbouring country whose airline was already doing five weekly frequencies to Nigeria but for months did not respond to Air Peace’s request to reciprocate, in the spirit of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement, BASA, while not asking for anything excess.
He said the situation got so bad that after a series of reminders, the county wrote to tell Air Peace management never to write them on that request yet, the country in question is a registered airline enjoying unfettered operations in Nigeria. Onyema said it was after reassuring the airline that its operations in Nigeria would be halted by the court that the government did the needful but lurked in the corners with prohibitive charges while reciprocating its operations to Nigeria.
By Chinelo Obogo and LB