Following the denial of Air Peace landing permit to evacuate stranded Nigerians in the United Kingdom, the CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has accused the UK government of frustrating efforts by the Nigerian government to evacuate her citizens, describing it as an eye-opener and frustrating.
The CEO, who registered his disappointment at a webinar on Tuesday, did not only absolve the Nigerian government of any blame on the repatriation flight but also accused the UK government of frustrating the efforts of the Nigerian government and the Air Peace airline.
He highlighted, however, that low cost of the repatriation flight was part of the reasons for the denial of the landing permit by the UK government.
Onyema lauded the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for his support. “When this issue happened, a lot of people, who were uninformed about it, told me that it must be the minister that did this”.
He further exonerated Sirika of any accusation, saying the minister gave heavy support even at night. “When I called the minister on this issue, he swung into action. He had to send me voice notes. He engaged the external affairs minister on what was happening”.
Continuing, Onyema categorically stated that it is not an Air Peace issue. “The Federal Government of Nigeria gave maximum support; it is not an Air Peace issue. The minister saw it as a Nigerian issue because the name of Nigeria was being thrown into the mud by whatever Britain was doing due to the fact that it was a diplomatic charter”.
He said, “When asked why they were turning their backs just 48 hours to the flight, they said we should produce a TCO. We produced the mail from ICAO saying during the pandemic these rules are relaxed and you can fly without TCO.
“They did not know that earlier, they sent a mail to us that we didn’t need TCO. They sent us the mail and that was how we did the first evacuation flight,” he adds.
“What opened their eyes was the fact that a Nigerian airline was sending two airplanes coming to take Nigerians from Britain at a ridiculously low price which was exposing everybody and they stopped us.”
Onyema further revealed, “I had 40 people on that airplane flying free of charge because they did not have money. I support the DG of NCAA when he said there should not be personalisation of blames. We all must come together to see aviation survives.”
Although the UK had airlines doing 21 frequencies to Nigeria, the Air Peace boss said it could not accommodate two flights from the country.Follow us on social media