How FG can help Air Peace battle price war conspiracy — Experts


Aviation experts have called on the federal government to come out in full force to support the nation’s carri­ers on international routes, especially Air Peace, and be a part of the global aeropolitics.

Less than two weeks after Air Peace commenced the direct flight services from the Murtala Muhammed Interna­tional Airport (MMIA), Lagos, to Lon­don Gatwick Airport, United Kingdom, foreign airlines have crashed air tickets by over 60 percent, reports Daily Independent.

The drop in airfares by the mega carriers, especially by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Air, Kenya Airways and others, brought up the fear of price war by the airlines targeted at the sole Nige­rian airline on the London route. ­

Before Air Peace began the Lagos-London route on March 30, 2024, an average rate of a return ticket in the economy class was about N2 million to N3 million, while the business class ticket ranged from N10 million to N15 million.

For instance, the airfare of Air Maroc flight to London with a stopover in Rabat, dropped from N1.5 million to N672,000, Air France/KLM dropped to N907,782 from over N2 million, while Ethiopian Airlines flight to London from Lagos and Abuja with a stopover at Bole Interna­tional Airport, Addis Ababa, has reduced from N1.9 million as at end of March to N680,000 for economy class ticket.

Also, Egyptair has dropped its Lagos-London economy tick­et price further to $470 (N585,620); Virgin Atlantic, $927.99; Rwan­dAir, $545.35 (N679,070), and Turkish Airlines, $647.84 (N807, 408).

Also, British Airways, which hitherto charged about N3 mil­lion on a return trip in econ­omy class, now sells tickets at N1,395,000 in the same class.

However, all these aforemen­tioned fares depend on the airline and when an intending passen­ger books for a flight.

Air Peace had started the Lagos-London route on March 30, 2024 at N1.2 million and N4 million as base fares for econo­my and business classes, respec­tively.

Commenting on the issue, Mr. Obi Mbanuzuo, the former Chief Operating Officer (COO), Dana Air, said that the foreign carriers are jittery by the entry of Air Peace into the UK.

Mbanuzuo explained that the Lagos-London route flight of Air Peace was a threat to the hegemony of foreign carriers on the Nigerian route, which he said prompted them to react by undercutting the airline’s fare to London.

According to the aviation ex­pert, the aim of the foreign car­riers was to prevent Air Peace from gaining a foothold in the international route, while also creating a pool of loyal custom­ers ensuring its entrenchment in the market.

He posited that using low fares by the foreign carriers, the airlines hoped that Air Peace would not be able to sustain the service and would be forced out of the market prematurely, there­by giving them the opportunity to continue with the previous high fares.

Mbanuzuo emphasised that for Air Peace to remain on the route, it needed the continuous support of the travelling public and the federal government, es­pecially quick access to forex and loans at single digit interest rate.

He added: “I’m sure they have calculated that they can withstand a period of reduced profits with the aim of removing the competition. This is where Nigerian travelers need to sup­port Air Peace by patronising the airline so long as their service standards are comparable – irre­spective of price.

“The federal government has been doing a lot recently, but where they can assist Nigerian airlines operating international routes most would be to ensure that foreign countries and air­port operators are aware that the Nigerian government is always behind its carriers whenever underhand activities are taking place against Nigerian airlines. They need to come out forceful­ly anytime a Nigerian carrier alleges underhand activities against it in a foreign country.

“That way, our carriers will feel protected and foreign air­ports will desist from underhand actions. A case in point is the fact that Gatwick Airport took two weeks to announce the start of Air Peace flights. Something they do as a matter of course for much smaller and less consequential airlines. Is the start of direct Lon­don to Lagos flights from a major London airport by a Nigerian operator, not big enough news that the airport operator ‘forgot’ to announce it? The usual calls for access to forex and access to single-digit loans remain.”

Mbanuzuo, however, ruled out conspiracy against Air Peace by the foreign airlines, but ex­pressed that the airlines adopted a market strategy to push out the Nigerian carrier from the route.

Besides, Engr. Benedict Adey­ileka, the former Acting Direc­tor-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), said that the government could come to the aid of Nigerian airlines on international routes through man­datory patronage by its officials.

Adeyileka also declared that there was a massive conspiracy against Air Peace on the interna­tional routes by foreign airlines.

Capt. Mohammed Badamasi, aviation expert, said that the gov­ernment needed to adhere strict­ly to the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) arrange­ment it has with other countries for Nigerian airlines to survive in international routes.

Badamasi called on Keyamo as a legal consultant to study the existing agreement and deter­mine whether it’s fair to Nigeria or to some Nigerians only.

The former pilot with the de­funct national carrier, also point­ed out that the recent reductions of airfares by foreign airlines be­cause of the emergence of Air Peace was a normal phenome­non and not sabotage.

He clarified that competition and production affect markets, maintaining that in a competitive market, people would choose prod­ucts of same quality, but lower pric­es than the ones with high prices.

Badamasi emphasised that the reduction in the airfares by the foreign airlines was the be­ginning of competition in the industry, but insisted that the emergence of Air Peace on the lu­crative Lagos-London route was a destabilising blow to the con­tinuous stealing of our foreign reserves by the foreign airlines.

“These two cases (compe­tition and production) are re­sponsible for the decline in the airfares of foreign airlines. Air Peace is the common factor re­sponsible for the new fares by foreign airlines.

“If they don’t reduce their fares and Air Peace is capable of carrying all the passengers at its fares, they will have nothing to carry. The popping of cham­pagne is over, but they will not stop thinking about how to, God forbids, get Air Peace out of the way.”

He advised the management of Air Peace to stick strictly to operational rules of engagement and abide by the law.

In his submission, Grp. Capt. John Ojikutu, aviation security expert, explained that the reluc­tance of the federal govern­ment to designate Air Peace as a flag carrier was partially respon­sible for the challenges confront­ing it in some of its international routes, especially in London.

Ojikutu insisted that the Ni­gerian government and its agen­cies were aware of the difficul­ties of the airline on the London route, but are more interested in continuous multiple frequencies to foreign airlines.

He also purported that the proponents of a national carrier for Nigeria may also be working behind the scene to frustrate the expansion of Air Peace.

“Secondly, there are other interest groups in the establish­ment of the national carrier. Air Peace has two battle fronts, the insider threats and the external. The airline needs industry ex­perts to fight for it.

“If Air Peace did not envisage these problems it is facing with those in the administration of our government and the man­agement of the agencies, it seems to me that Allen Onyema trusted too many people around him. I have said it to him in the past that you cannot go to London and face the British Airways on that route without the government support designating you as a Nigerian flag carrier.

“As a designated Nigeria flag carrier, in the absence of a national carrier, you will be enti­tled to what the British Airways enjoys here in the UK. It is the re­sponsibility of the Ministry of Aviation in particular and the NCAA to give you the support and introduce Air Peace to the UK Transportation Ministry and the UK Civil Aviation Authority. These are also responsible for introducing Air Peace to the air­port of its choice,” he said.

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