Air Peace COO addresses Sirika’s claim of $19m loss on Dubai trip

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Air Peace’s Chief Operating Officer, Toyin Olajide, has described the comments made against the firm by the former Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika, as spurious.

On Monday, in a statement released by Olajide, she said Sirika lied in his interview with Arise TV, where he claimed Air Peace is unable to attract passengers.

Sirika alleged that Air Peace leased two Boeing 777 aircraft on a monthly lease fee of $250,000, but abandoned the planes due to the firm’s inability to meet capacity.

The former minister stated that this has resulted in a $19 million loss on Air Peace’s finances, and also, the aircraft engines and landing gears were in need of replacement due to lack of activities for several months.

Sirika, who has come under criticism for mishandling the establishment of the national carrier, Nigeria Air, made this statement while commending Ethiopian Airlines and berating Air Peace.

Recall that Air Peace is part of the domestic airline umbrella, Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), which has constantly criticised Sirika for trying to launch the national carrier without obtaining the Air Operators Certificate (AOC) from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and also took him to court over the partnership between Nigeria Air and Ethiopian Airlines.

In response to the claim, Olajide said the planes Sirika was referring to are used for Dubai operations, but since the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government banned visa issuance for Nigerians, Air Peace and Emirates can’t ply the Dubai route.

Olajide said it has nothing to do with Air Peace not being able to fill capacity as claimed by Sirika, as the company has been flying to several other countries.

READ ALSO:Air Peace boss, Allen Onyema, complains, says Nigerian airlines lost billions to aviation strike

She also rubbished his assertion that Air Peace lost $19 million due to the inactivity of the two aircraft, disclosing that the company didn’t lease the planes but purchased them in full.

“Air peace never incurred such a loss, we never paid rentals contrary to his lies. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) can attest to the purchase and ownership of the Aircraft by Air peace.

“Secondly, Sirika said the airline stopped flying to Dubai because ‘we lack capacity’. This is another stark lie.

“Air Peace never stopped the Dubai operations because of lack of capacity. Air Peace commenced operations into the UAE in July, 2019, but in October 2022, the UAE Government announced a total visa ban on Nigerians.

“Neither Emirates nor Air Peace is operating the Nigerian/UAE route since the ban. The persisting non-issuance of visas and the accompanying inconveniences necessitated the suspension of our Dubai operations from November 22, 2022 till date.

“For the former minister to ascribe the suspension to ‘lack of capacity’ is not only shocking but also shows how keen he is to disparage an airline which ascendancy, has defied all the commercial odds and hostile environment placed on its path to continue to serve our nation proudly.

“How could an airline that placed a firm order for 13 brand new E2-195 aircraft, a firm order of 15 Boeing 737 Max 8 & Max 10, with over 30 aircraft already in its existing fleet be accused of lacking in capacity?” Olajide asked in the statement.

Air Peace’s COO advised the public to disregard Sirika’s statement, as they are lies against the airline, We implore the general public to disregard these lies told by the former minister of Aviation against Air Peace during the Arise TV Interview.

“We take serious exception to a situation where Airpeace is being misrepresented in the public sphere, causing wrong perceptions about our brand,” Olajide said.

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