Nigeria’s leading airline, Air Peace, has strongly condemned attempts by the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to rubbish its brand.
According to the Chief Operating Officer, of the airline, Toyin Olajide, the former Minister lied about some of the claims he made on Air Peace during his Sunday interview on Arise Television.
The ex-minister, while praising Ethiopian Airline, stated that Air Peace leased ‘two’ Boeing 777 aircraft on a monthly lease fee of $250,000, parked the aircraft for several months and incurred losses of $19 million while all the aircraft engines and landing gears became due for replacement when the airline were ready to fly.
Sirika went on to ask, “who does that?” He stated that Ethiopian Airlines would never do that.
However, Olajide in a statement said, “this is a blatant lie as we have three and not two Boeing 777 aircraft which were never leased or rented, but were purchased outrightly by the airline.
“Air peace never incurred such a loss, we never paid rentals contrary to his lies. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority can attest to the purchase and ownership of the Aircraft by Air peace.”
The former minister also said that the airline stopped flying to Dubai because it lacks capacity. The COO of Air Peace also described this as “another stark lie.”
She added that Air Peace never stopped the Dubai operations because of lack of capacity, explaining that Airpeace commenced operations into the UAE in July, 2019, but in October 2022, the UAE Government announced a total visa ban on Nigerians.
“Neither Emirates nor Air Peace is operating the Nigerian/UAE route since the ban. The persisting non-issuance of visas and the accompanying inconveniences necessitated the suspension of our Dubai operations from November 22, 2022 till date.
“For the former minister to ascribe the suspension to ‘lack of capacity’ is not only shocking but also shows how keen he is to disparage an airline that has defied all the commercial odds and hostile environment placed on its path to continue to serve our nation proudly.
“How could an airline that placed a firm order for 13 brand new E2-195 aircraft, a firm order of 15 Boeing 737 Max 8 & Max 10, with over 30 aircraft already in its existing fleet be accused of lacking in capacity?
“How can an Airline that stood up for the entire nation during the Covid-19 outbreak, and embarked on rescue operations worldwide, evacuating Nigerians from far away China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, UK and South Africa during the Covid-19 lockdowns be accused of lacking capacity?,” Olajide added.
She, however, urged the general public to disregard the comments made by the former Minister of Aviation against Air Peace during the interview on Arise Television.
She added,“We take serious exception to a situation where Air Peace is being misrepresented in the public sphere, causing wrong perceptions about our brand.”