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Anti-Competition: Why Nigeria should counter ‘devilish conspiracy’ by foreign airlines –Air Peace Chairman

Dr. Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace

*Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace, a Nigerian-owned carrier, alleges the home governments of foreign carriers, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Qatar Airways, are supporting them on underpricing air tickets to frustrate his airline out of the Lagos-London route, continue to exploit Nigerian travellers, and weaken the Naira again

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

As a decisive move to protect Nigerian travellers and checkmate the age-long exploitative, anti-competition tendencies of certain foreign airlines, Dr. Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace, an indigenous carrier, has raised the alarm that foreign carriers hitherto operating the “lucrative” Nigeria-UK route are currently conspiring to send Air Peace out of transnational operations by deliberately crashing airfares on the same route.

Onyema, who stated this while featuring on a Channels TV programme monitored Tuesday, April 9, 2024, in Lagos, noted there is a current “unspoken alliance” among the foreign airlines to use lower air tickets to eject Air Peace from the Nigeria-London route, in what he described as “dirty international aeropolitics”.

ConsumerConnect reports Air Peace, a Nigerian-owned airline, March 30 this year, reciprocated the lopsided Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and the United Kingdom, as it commenced direct flight operations from Lagos to Gatwick Airport, in London, United Kingdom (UK).

London Gatwick, also known as Gatwick Airport, is the secondary international airport serving London, England, United Kingdom. It is located near Crawley, West Sussex, England 29.5 miles south of Central London.

Hitherto, report indicated the foreign airlines had charged N3.5 million for a return ticket on the route, but Air Peace has fixed a return economy class ticket for N1.2 million in a patriotic bid to encourage and ease travel plans Nigerians to the UK.

Subsequently, it was gathered that other foreign airlines, including the British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Qatar Airways, have been forced to slash their prices to stay competitive in the aviation business.

The Chairman of Air Peace, during the interview, however, cautioned that if this alliance of foreign airlines succeed in prematurely frustrating Air Peace out of the Lagos-London route, Nigerian travellers in particular, and the citizenry in general, would pay dearly for it as billions of Naira will be lost, and the country’s national currency heavily strained again.

He stated: “If they take out Air Peace prematurely, this country will pay dearly for it, 10 times over; billions will be lost, there will be another heavy strain on the Naira.”

During the inaugural flight from Lagos into Gatwick Airport, in London, Mr. Festus Keyamo, Honourable Minister for Aviation and Aerospace Development, and Doris Uzoka-Anite, his counterpart at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (ITI), were onboard the inaugural Lagos-London flight alongside businessmen and women.

Several Nigerians and industry stakeholders have commended the feat, as more local airlines are being encouraged to follow suit in activating international flights to profitable routes, including the Lagos-London route.

It’s ‘devilish conspiracy’ to frustrate us in all ways, says Onyema

Speaking on his airline’s experience in flight operations into Gatwick Airport within weeks, Onyema disclosed said that foreign airlines operating the Lagos-London route “are fighting back.

“We are being deliberately frustrated in all ways.”

He also cited instances of ground handling and space allocation difficulties at Gatwick Airport in the last couple of days.

The Chairman of Air Peace further lamented, stating “it’s a very devilish conspiracy.

“All of a sudden, (foreign) airlines are underpricing, below the cost, it’s not up to one month, an airline was advertising $100, another one $305, $350.”

He noted they would “fill up the entire aircraft and carry people on the wings, it’s not even enough to buy your fuel.

“So, why are they doing that? Their governments are supporting them because Nigeria has been a cashcow for everybody.”

Onyema as well declared: “Their as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Qatar Airways have been forced to slash their prices to stay competitive.

The more, the merrier for Nigerian airlines joining Lagos-London route

Meanwhile, Onyems has invited other Nigerian airlines to join the Nigeria-UK route to break the monopoly hitherto enjoyed by foreign carriers operating into the four major gateway airports of Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt.

He stated: “I invite other Nigerian airlines to join the fray, let them come, let all of us do international operations.

“Yes, international aeropolitics is very dirty, but somebody must pay the price.”

Onyema equally expressed appreciation to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Minister Keyamo for being “solidly behind” Air Peace even as the airline navigates the politics side of operating to London, in the UK.

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