Lagos, NIGERIA — The Chairman of Air Peace, Bar. Allen Onyema, has said that in 2023 alone, 18 Air Peace aircrafts were lost to bird strike incidents, worrying that more of such incidents may still occur before the end of the year.
Onyema also lamented that the policies of the Federal Government was aiding the death of the domestic operators, while the government has refused to assist the airlines in its planned growth.
Speaking on Tuesday at the Quarter Two (Q2) Brunch Business Meeting with the theme: ‘Aviation Reset: Agenda for the New Dispensation, organised by the Aviation Round Table (ART) in Lagos, Onyema who was the lead speaker at the occasion mentioned bird strikes as one of the major contributions to the high death rates among the airlines.
According to him, the airline recently lost parts of the engine of its newly acquired Embraer 195 E2 to a bird strike incident, which cost it about $3.2 million to replace.
Apart from the money, he said the aircraft had to be out of service for another one week due to the activities of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) who delayed the delivery of the parts to the airline.
Apart from this, Onyema lamented that Air Peace in one day, lost two of its aircraft to bird strike incidents in one day at Benin Airport.
He explained that these resources could have been saved or diverted to other resources if not for the incidents.
According to Onyema: “Whenever we are criticizing the domestic airlines for delays or cancellations, we should try to find out the causes of these delays and cancellations. There were two bird strike incidents at Benin Airport alone in one day.
“Also, just recently, it cost us about $3.2 million to bring a part of one of the engines of our E195-E2 aircraft, which was attacked by birds. The aircraft had to be on the ground for another one week because the manufacturers never expected such an incident.”
Besides, Onyema decried the policy formulations and executions of the Federal Government, saying these contributed to the quick death of the domestic airlines.
Also, he said that the recent statistics of flight delays and cancellations released by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) put the domestic airlines in the bad light as it was silent on the reasons for delays and cancellations.
He decried that VIP movement, poor and inadequate infrastructure, paucity of foreign exchange, fuellers and weather, among other challenges, contribute to flight delays and cancellations among the country’s airlines.
Also, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of King Airlines, Sen. Musa Adede, said that it was necessary for the industry to embark on a reset exercise at this time as a new administration takes the centre stage in the country.
He challenged the industry players and the government to re-exam itself through a thorough cleaning and policy redirection.
Adede further accused Stella Oduah and Hadi Sirika, the past two aviation ministers of killing the industry through their actions and inactions, stressing that the sector needed newer ideas to compete.
Adede further condemned the planned reestablishment of a national carrier for Nigeria by the past administration, saying that the idea was no longer in vogue.
He said: “As it is, there is no unity among the airline operators either scheduled, chartered or helicopters. They are all working in isolation. The aviation ministry too is not helping the industry to grow. Our airports are very dirty.
“The former ministers in the sector, especially Oduah and Sirika who claimed to be a captain have killed the sector. Our ministers have sold out in drafting the agreements with foreign airlines and governments.”
Dr. Gabriel Olowo, President, ART, said that the private sectors in the industry are discouraged due to lack of necessary support and the will of the government.
He insisted that the government could not exonerate itself from the deaths of the past carriers.
“The Nigeria political authority seems to be paying a lot of attention to renovating airport infrastructure that is beyond economic repair like MMA and adding nonfunctional ones like the Chinese terminal of MMA 1 (though desirable), but to the detriment of airlines who use the infrastructure.
“Foreign airlines home remittance remains a huge challenge, and will only get worse with the floating dollar exchange rate if not quickly cleared. Airfares will continually soar, reaching all time high levels. Nigerian airlines remain small and highly fragmented,” he said