Allen Onyema, the chief executive officer of Air Peace, says government policies are the reasons Nigerian airlines are not working well.
The Air Peace boss commended President Muhammadu Buhari on the federal executive council’s decision to suspend the national carrier project saying other countries are running from owning a national carrier.
“There is this talk that domestic airlines are not doing well. Why are they not doing well? Why are so many private investors shying away from coming into this business?” he told ThisDay in an interview.
“The owners of this business have succeeded in other businesses. So why are domestic airlines failing? There must be a reason. And the reasons should be found at the doorstep of government’s policies which have not been changed over time.
“So, government’s policies are the reasons why Nigerian airlines are not working well. There is nothing more. It does not necessarily mean it is this government but government’s policies have been the bane of the growth of airlines in this country.
“We have been crying against excessive taxation. Air Peace is not up to four years old, the taxman has been knocking at my door every minute. In other countries, you are allowed a gestation period because you are providing hundreds of direct jobs, you are touching millions of lives.”
Onyema said there is no truth to claims that Nigerian Airways was plying 1500 routes before its death.
“On the international scene, it is a lie that Nigerian Airways was doing 1500 destination. It was a failed project. Nigerian Airways was not a profitable venture. It was bleeding the government full time. While all these private airlines are buying their planes themselves, Nigerian Airways was buying their plane with government money.
“We should not be compared with what happened in the days of the past, about Okada Air, Chanchangi Airlines or any other airline. We shouldn’t be compared that way; it means they are waiting for us to fail.”
He urged the federal government to concession airports with “immediate effect” saying “civil servants can never run airports well”.
According to him, Air Peace airline has received approval from Dubai and China and operations on that route will begin in November.