Allen Onyeama, CEO of Air Peace, has joined the rising chorus of critics of the campaign for a national carrier, calling it “moribund” and “a drain pipe.”
A few months ago, Nigeria debuted its national airline, Nigeria Air. However, the controversial plan was put on hold by President Bola Tinubu’s administration approximately two months after it entered power.
The dust hasn’t settled yet on the failed proposal, as Onyeama continues to say that the country doesn’t need a national carrier because of the challenges involved in operating one.
“Dead End Thought”
The leader of Air Peace is of the opinion that a government-run national airline is unnecessary.
Should Nigeria establish a national airline? He stated categorically, “No,” on Channels TV the day before.
The term “national carrier” suggests government control. Commercial airline operations are none of the government’s business. The Air Peace CEO stated on the news programme that “the national carrier thing is a moribund idea that has been jettisoned by countries several decades ago.”
He claims that contrary to popular belief, several airlines flying under the names of different countries are actually only “flag carriers.”
Once owned by governments, these assets have since been sold off. When asked why his country was falling behind, Onyema replied, “They are all flag carriers.” Discussing a national airline in 2023.
Only governments “that cannot afford business entrepreneurs with the right funding” have national carriers, in his opinion, hence few African nations have them.
Officials have dubbed the project a fraud.
His opinion is consistent with the general backlash against the reintroduction of a national airline so long after Nigerian Airways ceased operations.
The Nigerian Senate has criticised the debut of Nigeria Air for being too secretive.
After a series of controversies, the aviation committee intervened to voice its reservations over the project’s kickoff.
Under pressure, it called a meeting with top aviation officials, including Emmanuel Meribole, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aviation; Capt. Dapo Olumide, Interim Managing Director of Nigeria Air.
The committee questioned the motives of Hadi Sirika, the outgoing minister of aviation, for announcing Nigeria Air on the final day of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Captain Olamide revealed at the occasion that Ethiopian Airlines chartered the plane used to introduce the national carrier, drawing even more criticism.