By Sade Williams
Allen Onyema, chairman of Air Peace led other top management staff of the airline on Monday to apologise to its teeming customers, especially those that were immediately affected by the rescheduling of flight last week when two of its aircraft wings clipped at Lagos airport while one was being retrieved from the apron and others who were affected in Benin and Abuja after a SAHCOL equipment rammed into its aircraft in Benin airport.
Onyema at a briefing in Lagos, said passengers should not see the flight delays, rescheduling or cancellation that emanated from the situation as deliberate but one that was beyond their control at that time.
He explained that in Lagos, the two aircraft that were immediately declared unserviceable could have done 14 flights but the schedules were immediately adjusted such that the remaining aircraft could cater to their needs.
The rescheduling, he regretted was the only option, adding that the airline lost three aircraft in less than 24 hours to aerodrome incident.
“The challenge has caused us and our passengers unpleasant stories, on the day of the incident, we would have done 14 flights with the two aircraft but the adjustment led to delays and a lot passengers didn’t know about this, the situation led to massive disruptions here and there.
“And barely 18 hours after that of Lagos, SAHCOL equipment rammed into one of our aircraft and it was also declared Aircraft On Ground (AOG), no airline will survive all these without disruptions. We hereby apologise to our passengers for this, we are very sorry for the inconvenience it has caused them we are assuring them that our on-time departure policy remains sound”, he said.
Meanwhile, the airline management decried a situation where some passengers go violent and gained entry into some restricted areas at the airport to foment violence as a result of flight delays.
Onyema, who said flight delays and cancellation were part of airlines’ business, noted that some passengers stripped some staff naked and beat others to stupor when they were told the truth about what happened to the aircraft.
“We must also look at the environment where we operate, as much as I am not totally exonerating some staff of some airlines, sometimes airlines would want to do things right but the environment chokes it, airlines are operating under very harsh condition, an aircraft may land and ground services provider may not be ready, it causes delay and passengers will not understand. There was a time the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) equipment hit our aircraft and it became unserviceable for sometimes. But passengers will not know that the fault is not from the airline.
“We are calling on government that it should allow airline to henceforth, acquire its own ground services equipment to minimize the unpleasant situation, the monopoly of ground handlers should be broken, it is one of the issues militating against airlines’ business”, he said.
The Air Peace boss, who explained that the company’s duty manager in Abuja airport was beaten to stupor, called on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) educate passengers on all these, adding that ‘we need their (passengers’) cooperation and understanding to grow’.