Air Peace says it did not disrespect Aminu Ado Bayero, Emir of Kano, but rather “protected his image and name from ridicule”.
Isa Bayero, the Emir’s cousin, had written a letter of complaint to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), seeking punitive action against the airline over what he termed “disrespect” to the monarch and people of Kano.
Bayero said he called Allen Onyema, chief executive officer of Air Peace, to assist him by delaying the airline’s early morning flight to Kano, but he “flatly refused”.
Responding in a statement on Friday, Oluwatoyin Olajide, chief operating officer, Air Peace, expressed shock over what she called a deliberate falsehood.
“Rather than disrespect the revered Emir of Kano, Air Peace did everything to protect the name and image of the Emir from ridicule by not succumbing to what Isa Bayero wanted us to do,” the statement reads.
“If we had agreed to stop and delay an aircraft, already set to take-off, for another one hour only for the doors to be opened and the Emir to walk in, there would have been a very serious uproar in the media nationwide against both the airline and the Emir.
“This we pleaded with Isa Bayero to understand, but he refused to accept.”
Olajide confirmed that Bayero called Onyema to request a flight delay, but she denied that the airline’s CEO rejected his request.
“It was not true that our Chairman refused flatly. He rather told Isa Bayero to give him a few minutes to call the airport to find out the status of the flight. I was the one he called. To show his desire to help, he called me immediately and intimated me with the request,” she said.
“I am the chief operating officer (COO) of Air Peace. I quickly called the local airport from where we carry on our day to day domestic flight operations and was told that the aircraft had since finished boarding and was almost taxiing out.”
She said she called Bayero to explain the status and also to proffer a solution that would be a win-win for both the waiting passengers and the Emir.
She said the airline decided to instead fly the Emir and his entourage on the 7 am flight to Abuja and then from Abuja to Kano at no extra cost.
The COO explained that the airline took the decision because the next flight from Lagos to Kano was 7 pm.
“I quickly called Isa Bayero with this information and I expressed our desire to put him, their entourage and the Emir of Kano on our 7.00 am Lagos- Abuja flight and that on landing in Abuja, we would then put him on our flight going to Kano at no cost to them,” Olajide said.
“Isa Bayero refused this offer; he insisted that the already taxiing aircraft should be stopped and delayed until the Emir and the other eight persons arrive from the international airport.”
The COO added, “We took this decision to defend the image of our highly revered Emir of Kano and not as an insult as insinuated by Isa Bayero because if passengers were delayed for an hour after boarding and ready to fly and then to see the Emir and his entourage walk in, considering the pulse of the general public lately due to the complaints of delays, it would not have done justice to the image and character of the Emir”.