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‘How Boeing 737 Max ‘ll boost our operations’

‘How Boeing 737 Max ‘ll boost our operations’

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The use of Boeing 737 Max will boost Air Peace’s operations and reduce maintenance costs through low fuel consumption, the airline’s Chairman, Allen Onyema, has said.

Onyema said these were the factors considered when the airline ordered for 10 Boeing 737 Max from the American manufacturer.

Besides, it is the best aircraft for long haul operations, he said.

Onyema said in Lagos that Boeing 737 Max aircraft would help the carrier in its intercontinental operations, which require planes that can carry over 200 passengers.

The airline, he said, decided to acquire the aircraft in order to expand its operations after about four years of changing the domestic aviation landscape.

Onyema said the aircraft would place the country at par with what legacy carriers across the globe are offering their passengers.

Affirming that Air Peace was sticking to its business model and expansion plan, Onyema said the  10 new aircraft would increase its fleet of airplanes to 37.

He said: “The decision to order 10 Boeing 737 Max airplanes was not taken in a hurry, but part of our strategic growth plan in the fourth year of our existence to buy brand new airplanes. Apart from the new Boeing airplanes, we are also in discussions with Airbus, Bombardier and ATR to acquire their brands of aircraft.

“ We struck the deal to acquire airplanes from Boeing because our financial partners, Fidelity Bank, were excited over our template for repayment. Apart from Fidelity, other  Nigerian banks are ready to undertake such deals for us to get brand new planes that will change passengers’ perception about Nigerian carriers.

“The new planes besides changing passengers’ perception will also alter the narrative about the economics of airline business by ensuring reliability, reducing cost of aircraft maintenance and fueling.”

On why Air Peace has not commenced flights on some international routes, Onyema cited regulatory approvals from the civil aviation authorities of the countries it is designated to fly into.

He said most of the complaints about its delay to launch such flights were because of factors outside its control.

Onyema said the government should step up its support to indigenous carriers by getting involved in international aero politics.

He said: “Indigenous carriers need the support of the government to actualise their dream of flying into international routes. Other countries are supporting their carriers, there is no harm if Nigerian government does the needful by getting more involved in international aero politics to support Air Peace.”

He said some foreign carriers enjoying privileges on Nigerian routes could do anything to frustrate the efforts of Air Peace to fly into their countries due to perceived competition.

He said South African government and the Government of the People’s Republic of China have set stringent conditions for Air Peace, which its officials have been grappling to navigate through.

For instance, Onyema said the Chinese Government mandated Air Peace to have two aircraft registered and documented with its civil aviation authority to meet requirement for approval for flights.

South African Government, he said, took over two years to respond to its application, which is being handled by the authorities.

He said the Nigerian Government should go the extra mile to leverage international aero politics to soften the ground for indigenous carriers, which had proven that they could match legacy carriers with same service if a level playing field is created.

He disclosed that before the end of November, Air Peace would commence flights into the United Arab Emirates, a development he said was creating jitters in foreign carriers’ circle.

Onyema said Air Peace would unveil competitive fares on some of its international routes.

He said the carrier was not in a haste to begin flights into the United Kingdom, because it needed to get its acts right so as not to embarrass Nigerians with glitches in its operations.

Onyema said the carrier needed to have enough aircraft best suited for long haul operations with back- up arrangement to forestall possibilities of aircraft developing fault.

He said: ”We are not in a haste to commence operations into London yet, we will abide by regulatory advice to sort out all that is required by getting the right approvals and aircraft before commencing flights.

“ We do not intend to erode passengers’ confidence and embarrass the country.”

He, however, called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, fix airport infrastructure including good terminals; functional air field lighting systems and transit facilities to enable Nigeria become a hub.

Onyema said efficient airport infrastructure plays a huge role in the development of hubs, and can attract airlines using them to connect flights.

He said the need for efficient airport systems reaffirms the need for the government to concession airports to enable them run seamlessly.

The concession arrangement, he said, should not bring about job losses;  those affected in the management of the terminals from public to private managers, should be deployed to other agencies of government, Onyema said.

He decried the negative views of some so-called experts in the sector, whom he alleged are misadvising government on how it could turn around the sector.

Onyema said Air Peace has developed a financial template for its aircraft acquisition that has made some financial institutions seek to partner it on fleet expansion.

He commended Boeing for supporting its fleet expansion by introducing a flexible model for acquisition.

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