Loss of aircraft, passengers’ attacks disrupt Air Peace operations nationwide
The loss of three aircraft on the fleet of Air Peace has disrupted operations of the airline and domestic air travel nationwide.
This has sparked waves of attacks by angry passengers of the airline, who had their flights either rescheduled or cancelled. This further worsened the disruption of operations with effects on other airlines.
The development yesterday made air travels to some destinations quite chaotic, with chains of delays and multiple flight cancellations. Air Peace has the largest market share of domestic passenger traffic in the country, but loss of three out of 10 aircraft has impeded its smooth operations.
Following the wave of attacks on officials in Lagos, Abuja, Calabar airports, the airline yesterday called for patience, while urging the Federal Government to ban the sale of alcohol at various airport terminals.
The Guardian learnt that some Benin-bound passengers went irate at the weekend following the cancellation of their flight, and attacked the Air Peace officials at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja. While the duty manager was allegedly beaten and stripped naked, facilities of the airline were also destroyed at the weekend.
The airline explained that delays and flight cancellations were due to the loss of three aircraft within 24 hours.
It was gathered that the winglet of one of Air Peace plane clipped the wing of another aircraft while being towed to repark at the ramp of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos last Thursday.
Similarly, a truck operated by SAHCOL ground-handling company allegedly rammed into another of Air Peace aircraft at the Benin Airport and rendered it unserviceable.
Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Allen Onyema, said each of the grounded aircraft executes about eight flights per day and in total, the development means 24 flights disrupted every day.
Onyema said in the wake of the incident, Air Peace had to fix between 20 to 24 flights in its schedule, adding that no airline can do that without disruption of services, leading to delays and cancellations.
He said the development, however, should not warrant violent attacks on its staffers, citing that the development was beyond all parties concerned.
According to Onyema, the faulty aircraft would be grounded for at least 10 days affecting 240 flights. He estimated that the airline risk losing no fewer than N3 billion in the process.
Corporate Communications Manager of Air Peace, Chris Iwarah, expressed regrets that security agents failed to halt members of the public invasion of airport facilities to attack airline workers.
Iwarah said: “It is surprising all these attacks could take place at the nation’s airports, a high security environment, without any challenge whatsoever from security agents.
“The situation has, therefore, left us with no choice than to resort to our right of self-defence to prevent our staff from being killed. We can no longer tolerate unruly passengers maiming our staff simply because we have chosen to provide service in a very challenging environment.
“Security agencies must rise to the occasion before our staff, who are also people’s children and parents, are killed. This is the least the government can do to prevent unpatriotic citizens from bringing the few surviving airlines in the country down,” he said.