Last week, Nigeria’s Air Peace Airline commenced operations into Sharjah International Airport with jaw dropping 264 revenue generated passengers representing 85 percent passenger traffic in the first flight.
The high traffic which has been described as unprecedented in the history of inaugural flights has thrown the three United Arab Emirates airlines flying into Nigeria into frenzy following the heavy traffic pulled by Air Peace on the first flight.
According to information gathered, the UAE based airlines: Emirates, Qatar and Etihad had never been so uncomfortable when other carriers from Nigeria made inroads into their domain as such airlines within the shortest time of beginning operations into Dubai in particular lasted not quite long before they left the route.
Perhaps, for obvious reasons in view of what Air Peace is bringing along with its foray into the route ranging from its position as the largest Nigerian carrier with its fleet of new and sophisticated aircraft, it has dawned on the Middle East carriers that a Nigerian airline may this time around mean business.
The first confusion that is coming the way of the Arab carriers is in the area of the aircraft type Air Peace is using to service the UAE route, a Boeing 777-300 airplane which coincidentally happens to be the same type Emirates Airlines is also using on the same route.
The Airline’s Boeing 777-300 plane which has capacity to carry 316 passengers on the inaugural flight carried 264 revenue generated passengers which was a rare feat.
Last week’s flight commencement by Air Peace came almost two years after two Nigerian carriers initially operating the route left the stage for logistics reasons.
Under the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) Nigeria signed with the UAE authorities, three carriers from each side are expected to operate into each other’s territory. While three airlines from the UAE have been reaping from this, sadly, Nigeria has been running at a loss as no carrier from its end is reciprocating the agreement.
All the while, the few Nigerian carriers that had ventured into the route left unceremoniously either due to their lack of plans or undue ‘aero politics’ played by the UAE authorities to protect their three carriers.
In order not to be caught up in the ‘aero politics’ the UAE authorities may want to play for the sake of their carriers this time, the Air Peace management has put all necessary facilities on ground to ensure it does not give room for any loopholes.
According to the Chairman of the Nigerian carrier, Mr Allen Onyema, besides the Boeing 777-300 plane presently servicing the Nigeria/UAE route, the airline has more than enough back up aircraft on ground apart from three more Boeing 777-300 coming to join the airline’s fleet between now and October.
Despite the entrance of Air Peace on this lucrative route as a Nigerian carrier, Nigeria is still at a disadvantage as the agreement between the two countries allows three airlines from Nigeria to fly into the Arab country as the three UAE carriers presently operating 28 frequencies into and out of Nigeria while Air Peace is starting with meager three frequencies.
Though better late than never, the coming of Air Peace coupled with the level of its preparedness may make it tough for the UAE authorities to play ‘aero politics’ this time around, the whole world, particularly Nigeria, is watching the UAE authorities to see if they will give the same support their carriers are enjoying in Nigeria to Air Peace.
Above all, Nigerian government should come out of its shell to join in playing ‘aero politics’ for Air Peace and other Nigerian carriers designated on the foreign routes as a way of supporting private investments.