Lagos – The management of Air Peace has disclosed that the airline lost over N3 billion on two of its aircraft involved in wing tip accident in Lagos and another one damaged by the Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) ground handling equipment recently at the Benin Airport.
Speaking during a press briefing in Lagos, Mr. Allen Onyema, Managing Director of Air Peace, said that AG Waters of London has put the cost of repairs on one of the winglet aircraft at $650, 000, over N250 million, plus the cost of repairing the remaining two aircraft and the number of flights that were cancelled because of the incidents.
Onyema, who was accompanied by the management staff of the airline, called on the government to protect domestic carriers’ staff from unruly passengers who beat them up on any slight delay or cancellation.
He said the airline was having challenges by losing three aircraft in less than 24 hours and rescheduling of the flights within this short period was a herculean task.
Onyema said there was no airline that would have this problem within 24 hours that would not face this same challenges it is presently going through.
He said the lost of three aircraft within 24 hours had led to massive disruption of flights, as 24 flights were affected by the incidents.
According to him, the affected aircraft may not be back in the next two weeks as they had to undergo re-certification, insisting that safety of the passengers was paramount to the airline.
The Air Peace boss said this development did not warrant the beating of the airline staff by unruly passengers to the extent of stripping the airline Abuja airport manager naked and beating him to stupor.
“The airline staff are people’s children, husbands and wives who need to be protected from unruly passengers while carrying out their duties at the airports,” Onyema said.
He stated that there have been clandestine moves to demean the airline, but Nigerians have been showing the airline love.
Onyema, apologised to the airline passengers for the delays and cancellation within this period, assuring that Air Peace had come to stay no matter the situation, adding that the situation would soon change as the affected aircraft are receiving attention.
It would be recalled that on Thursday, April 20, 2017, the winglet of one of the aircraft, which was being towed within the very limited space at the ramp of the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos to position for departure, had a partial contact with the stabiliser of another one.
According to the airline its recent statement: “We subsequently declared the two aircraft unserviceable in line with our high safety standards. We were, therefore, compelled to adjust our schedules to close the gaps created by the two aircraft, which were scheduled to do 14 sectors.
“While we were trying to salvage the situation, some unruly passengers took the law into their own hands, preventing passengers from boarding and making it impossible for our aircraft to fly.
“In Abuja, a former number three citizen of this country, whose flight returned to Abuja when it could not land in Enugu due to the closure of the airport at 7 p.m., refused to disembark and incited others to join him in his lawless action. The aircraft was eventually detained overnight in Abuja.
“The action of the former federal lawmaker and other unruly passengers in our different stations worsened the already difficult schedule we were making effort to save. Some flights we were prepared to operate despite the challenge we were facing, were eventually cancelled.
“While we were making effort to resolve the challenge with the decision to commence our operations very early on Friday, a truck operated by SAHCOL rammed into another of our aircraft at the Benin Airport and the aircraft was again declared unserviceable.
“The aircraft involved in the Benin incident was scheduled to do seven sectors, including our Abuja-Benin service. Given the development, we had no choice than to cancel our Abuja-Benin service and asked those who were willing to reschedule for Saturday to do so, while others should be immediately refunded.
“Some passengers, who were to fly with us from Abuja to Benin, however, went violent.
They attacked our staff in Abuja and almost killed our duty manager. It took the intervention of Air Force personnel, who were reportedly called in by the airport authorities, to rescue our duty manager from the mob. But that did not prevent the passengers from destroying our facilities. The menacing passengers also prevented others from boarding their own flights, thereby complicating the situation.
“In Lagos, some other passengers attacked and almost killed our station manager. Also in Calabar, unruly passengers had an unchallenged day, preventing our aircraft from flying. On Sunday, April 16 our staff were also attacked at the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos.