What is your opinion of Nigerian Airlines?

Depending on who you are, the opinion may not be that great, but the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, wants you to know that Nigerian airlines are not weak.

Instead, he says, what domestic carriers need is the support of the government to grow bigger and compete with their counterparts globally.

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In a chat with journalists, Onyema said domestic airlines had been criticised unfairly by those who should support them to grow.

He said: “People have been fed with lies that domestic airlines are weak and cannot get it right. They have been told that there are a lot of gaps for the airlines to fill on the domestic scene and on the international level; that they are heavily indebted and will never be able to do anything.

“Those are lies. We are ready to succeed. It is not true that all Nigerian airlines are weak; what we need is the support of the government to move forward. We are not asking the government to give us money because it is the duty of banks to lend money to businesses. I won’t subscribe to asking government at any level to give money to airlines.”

According to Onyema, one crucial way the government should support domestic carriers is helping to play international aero politics.

He stated that government’s lack of interest in protecting domestic airlines was the reason for their high mortality rate.

“If the government supports us, we will get it right. The government should go out there and play international aero politics for us. It is true that Air Peace was given six international and 17 regional routes to fly, but nobody has asked why we have not started. It is one thing to get your government’s permission to fly to some countries but another for the country to permit you,” he said.