Anthony Kila:Air Peace to London is not just a flight

Dear Readers

Welcome to the month March of 2024

Barring any extraordinary circumstances, whatever else happens in March 2024, the month will also be remembered as the month Nigerian-based privately owned airline Air Peace, led by Allen Onyema makes its maiden flight to London, UK. It is not the first time a Nigerian airline will go to London as a commercial flight, we have had some others do the same, Nigeria Airways, Belview, Arik and Medview Airlines come to mind. We all know the unhappy ends of these carriers and it has been a long time since a Nigerian commercial carrier flew the Lagos London route that Nigerians, and not only, love so much.

The lack of Nigerian commercial flights has however not stopped Nigerians from going to London, they go and they keep going there for business meetings, health purposes, political meetings, holidays etc. Nigerian elites from politicians to political office holders that are charged and paid to fix and improve the country as well as corporate leaders that have made their fame and fortunes in Nigeria and celebrities have continued to fly using state and private jets to London in style during the period in which Nigerian commercial airlines could not fly. Where they could not use state and private jets due to several people to ferry or the affordability of private jets, foreign airlines from Europe, the Middle East and even Africa have stepped in to help us. Airlines from these countries have made sure that we have not missed the opportunity to consume and invest in GBP and USD to then innocently wonder why the Naira is weak.

READ ALSO:  Arik, Delaware State University Seek Collaboration

Those who care must say a big thank you to the likes of British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, KLM, Emirates, Qatar and Ethiopian Airlines that have through their consistent existence and experience shown us that there is no witchcraft or magic affecting flights to London. The failure or success of airlines like other human endeavours is dependent on humans and it does not matter if the people or company of people is European, Arab or African. We must make it clear that by people here we mean management, users and government. The role each of these agents plays, not magic, is what determines the trajectory of any venture, aviation ventures in particular.

There is a not very popular but interesting saying that informs that “three things make a country: a land, a flag and an airline”. Those fixated on having a national carrier must have been affected by this saying because after many attempts and millions of dollars down the drain we seem to be still learning the obvious lesson that teaches that in this 21st century, the best way to make an airline fail is to get government involved in its ownership and management. I have also heard not a few Nigerians express a sense of frustration and inadequacy by the fact that there is no Nigerian airline flying their favourite route. Well, as Air Peace starts its flights to London, I think we can all feel a bit more countrymen as we now have a land, a flag and an airline that flies to London again.

Air Peace chairman, Mr. Allen Onyema

Air Peace’s boss Allen Onyema is not a man who arrives quietly or in a conventional business way, the first time I met the man years ago, he was keen on letting me know that the main purpose of his Air Peace was to foster economic opportunities for Nigerian youths and development for Nigeria. In introducing the new flight to London, Onyema has declared that the main aim of Air Peace to London is to facilitate affordable flights for Nigerian students. It has been long since I have heard of any airline mention students let alone “student rebate” in their plans yet many of those that manage airlines today grew up at a time when student rebate was a normal part of the travel lexicon. Even before flying to London, Air Peace has succeeded in bringing back that term into our conversation.

READ ALSO:  Air Peace aircraft makes emergency landing at Lagos airport

The rates are out for the maiden flight that will depart in this month of March, I plan to be on that flight. A quick comparison with fares of other return flights shows that Air Peace to London is about half the price of other airlines flying to London. I doubt the fares of other airlines will remain the same if Air Peace can maintain her low price and fly successfully. Beyond the Air Peace flying to London, Allen Onyema and his team will have to come and tell us how they can do it, once they succeed.

No need to pretend. Yes, I want Air Peace to succeed in this mission for it will not only mentally and emotionally inspire lots of other people and ventures to hope and dare but it will also generate a lot of material contributions to wealth and job creation in Nigeria and for Nigerians. The airport allocated to Air Peace to land in London is the Gatwick Airport and it is not Air Peace’s preferred airport I don’t think that matters much. I however strongly believe that the least the Nigerian government and all its agencies from FAAN to NCAA can do is to do all it can to help Air Peace succeed in this mission. From fiscal policies to negotiations and logistic support, the government in all its shades must do all it can to support Air Peace almost like we do with the Super Eagles.

READ ALSO:  Inspiring story of Nigerian female twin pilots and how women are shaping aviation sector

Ultimately, the success or failure of Air Peace to London will depend largely on its management. The company is already committed to affordable flights, from the CEO to the lowest member of the Air Peace team, everyone must be committed to offering travellers safe and punctual flights operated by competent and cautious staff in Lagos and London London.

Recruitment must be based on competence, and leadership must be purposeful and connected to the declared vision. The feedback mechanism must be real, quick and appreciated. Every flight must be a statement flight and each flight must be flown with a desire to do better than the last flight.

Join me if you can on Twitter @anthonykila to continue these conversations.

Anthony Kila is Institute Director at CIAPS.

Wole Shadare