The Federal Government, yesterday, rallied airline operators for better planes and fare to brighten their chances of survival. Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, during the receipt of Air Peace’s brand new Embaer 195-E2 aircraft in Abuja yesterday, said the new plane offers less maintenance cost, more profitability and sustenance.
The state-of-the-art facility is first of 13 ordered by the company and also first of its kind in Africa. Sirika, who commended the operator for the acquisition, said it was the way to go for modern commercial carrier that wants to compete, survive and endure. He noted that Nigeria had witnessed a number of carriers deploying wrong aircraft, thus placing it among nations with highest number of unserviceable jets.
“We must never forget that the propensity to fly is determined by the price of ticket and choice of equipment. The equipment type determines profitability and sustainability of operations. There is no way an airline that has invested in wrong equipment can compete with one that has new aircraft. A new aircraft is fuel-efficient, requires minimal maintenance, low workload on pilots and profits, all of which a wrong equipment do not have.
“I will urge other operators to rethink their type of equipment for sustenance, following the example of Air Peace. Air Peace has keyed into the sectoral roadmap of aviation and it is commendable,” Sirika said.
Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister and the National Assembly for creating an enabling environment for the growth of the aviation sector through duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) waivers to commercial airliners. He said fresh 8000 jobs would be created by the planes, adding that all the 13 facilities had been manufactured and would arrive one after the other within two weeks.
In his remarks, the Brazilian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ricardo Guerra de Araujo, lauded the feat, expressing optimism that the indigenous operator would consider direct flight between Nigeria and his home country.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State urged the company to create regional hubs for air transport in Nigeria by offering affordable tickets to customers. He described air transportation as catalyst for economic integration, charging other operators to consider reasonable fare for travellers.
Also speaking, President/ CEO, Commercial Business Aviation, Embraer, Arjan Meija, said the airplane would help the Nigerian firm achieve its ambition of connecting not just all of Nigeria, but also the whole of the African continent aside feeding long-haul flights from the Lagos hub.