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By CDon Adinuba

The chief executive of the Africa Investment and Trade Summit and Exhibition (AITE), Tunde MacAlabi, has lauded the Air Peace chairman, Allen Onyema, for his unwavering patriotism, noting that the resumption of the Lagos-London flights by his airline on March 30 has crashed fares on the lucrative route by about 50% for the benefit of the Nigerian people.

In a statement in Lagos this signed by himself, the AITE chairman said that the significant reduction in fares “owes to Onyema’s love of Nigeria.

“He could have gone into a furtive deal with the only two foreign aircarriers operating Lagos-London direct flights to keep the economy ticket as high as N3.5 million, as against the N1.2m Air Peace charges for an economy seat”.

Foreign airlines have in the last few days cut their charges on the Lagos-London operations significantly.

British Airway, for instance, has reduced its fare from N2.7m to N1. 280m for a one-way economy ticket.

“This competition is good for the Nigerian people and the country’s economy”, MacAlabi declared, commending Air Peace for providing even a cheaper fare for Nigerian students.

The AITE chairman, who organised Nigeria’s l international investment, Business, Trade Summit and exhibition in September on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, stated that London is not just the capital of Nigeria’s former colonial master but also the world’s business capital, making traffic between Nigeria and the UK heavy.

Calling the Lagos-London route one of the most profitable in the world, the leading international business promoter, recalled how the British government “fought tooth and nail during the General Sani Abacha military government of the 1990s to get British Airways to resume flights on the route when the Nigerian and British governments had a big quarell over some diplomatic issues”.

The British government, the AITE leader continued, even provided Nigeria Airways, “its sole competittor on the route, with aircraft to apparently compete with it on the same route!

“That shows how lucrative and irresistible the Lagos-London operation is to foreign airlines and the extent they can go to maintain it”.

He said that “Nigerians are not surprised that Mr Onyema did not collaborate with any group to fleece Nigerian travellers which could have fetched him millions of dollars within a few days”.

It added: “Nigerians remember the Air Peace chairman as the person who on May 29 2020 brought home, free of charge, 268 stranded Nigerians and the previous day 301 fellow citizens from South Africa who were facing vivious attacks in a country the Nigerian government and people played a significant role in liberating from Apartheid and the worst form of internal colonialism”.

He also recalled that Air Peace brought home many stranded Nigerians from Ukraine in 2020 when Russia invaded the country, culminating in a war.

“The Air Peace chairman once again came to the rescue of stranded 5 Nigerian students last year in the Sudan when a vicious civil war broke out”.

MacAlabi, a former Business Development Manager with the Daily Times and The Guardian, also commended the Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, for asking the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, to fish out Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) officials who directed the maiden Air Peace crew from London to park in an akward location as part of the effort to frustrtae the airline while foreign aircarriers were given prime places.

“We are proud that our professional colleague in government is still playing the role of the conscience of society with his swift response to the man-made obstacles Mr Onyema has been facing in the aviation industry despite all he has done for thousands of Nigerians regardless of their faith, gender or ethnicity.”

Tunde MacAlabi, AITE boss

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