…assures of hitch free yuletide operations
By Sade Williams
Nigeria’s leader carrier, Air Peace at the weekend, explained why it was unable to launch flight services to three regional cities, Freetown, Banjul and Dakar as scheduled for December 15, saying it was due to an industrial unrest by air traffic control (ATC) in Dakar, a critical chain in its route map.
The airline, which assured air travellers of smooth flight operations in the run-up to, during and after the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, in a related development, said it will operate all its daily flights into and out of the Enugu Airport between the hours of 7am and 2pm during the partial closure of the facility’s runway to traffic by the Federal Government.
A statement issued by Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah said more of the airliners in its 24-aircraft fleet had returned from maintenance to cater to the spike in air travel demand around the Christmas and New Year’s festivities.
The carrier, the statement assured, was ready to do everything within the parameters of safe flight operations to deliver on-time and consistent services during the yuletide.
“We recently deepened our capacity with the expansion of our fleet size to 24 aircraft. While some of our newly-acquired aircraft have started coming in, others that went on maintenance are returning to service. This obviously is a pleasing development, coming very close to the yuletide when there is usually a great rise in the demand for air travel.
“Although inclement weather, as we have experienced in the last few weeks, is a huge challenge during this period, we have a solid plan to ensure our esteemed guests have the best of flight experience in the run-up to, during and after the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. We, however, appeal to our valued guests to show understanding and cooperation when there is a challenge of bad weather and other such circumstances that work against safe flight operations during the period. As a safety-centric airline, Air Peace sincerely values the lives of its guests and crew and will never operate a flight except it is truly safe to do so,” the airline said.
Commending the Federal Government for the ongoing effort to fix the runway of the Enugu Airport, Air Peace assured the travelling public that all its daily flights into and out of the facility from 7am to 2pm would operate as scheduled.
The airline, however, said other Enugu-bound flights from around 3pm when the runway of the facility was expected to be shut daily would be diverted to either the Owerri or Port Harcourt airport.
The airline added that passengers affected by the partial closure of the Enugu Airport could reschedule to any of the alternate airports for free.
The said it carrier regretted the postponement of the launch of its Freetown, Banjul and Dakar services as part of the second phase of the expansion of its regional route network.
“We were all set for the launch of the second phase of our expansion on the West Coast of Africa, connecting Freetown in Sierra Leone, Banjul in The Gambia and Dakar in Senegal. Members of our advance crew were already on ground in Dakar when we received the disruptive news around midnight of December 14, the eve of the launch, that Dakar’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) would shut down on December 15 we had planned to operate our inaugural flight into the destination.
“This development completely upset our plan, as Dakar is critical to the new routes launch. We had no choice than to take the painful decision to call off the launch to avoid our esteemed guests getting stuck in the area despite the huge financial and material resources we had committed to the process. Our decision to call off the launch turned out to be quite right as members of our advance crew were eventually caught in the industrial unrest and got stuck in Dakar.
“The incident, rather than discourage us from servicing the routes, has more than ever before fuelled our resolve to tackle the difficulties experienced by air travellers on the routes. We have immediately begun fresh arrangements to expand to the routes and when we are really certain that the industrial unrest in Dakar has been fully settled, we will announce a new launch date and deliver on our promise to end the nightmare of air travellers on the routes”, it added.