Economy

Air Peace: Airline Expansion Creates More Trouble for Travellers

When it comes to fleet expansion, Air Peace, one of Nigeria’s leading airlines, is a tough bird. The airline has always had its eye on massive expansion since 2018, when they started acquiring wide-bodies for this mission.

Two years ago, Air Peace announced a new order for ten 737 MAX 8 airplanes during an inaugural ceremony in Lagos. The airline at that time was already operating Boeing 737s between major cities in Central and West Africa. The airline had equally added Boeing 777s to its fleet, as it was looking towards launching more international flight operations at that time.

Now, the airline has a fleet of three Boeing 777s, with two 777-300s and one 777-200ER, according to Planespotters.net. All these aircrafts are painted in Air Peace’s striking livery.

Just last month, Air Peace made history as the airline took delivery of the first brand new E195-E2 aircraft in Africa. It is a 124-seat capacity jet which offers superior travel experience. It is one of the 13 E2s the company signed a firm order for in 2019.

More is still expected. About two years ago, Air Peace had firmed up  an order for up to a whopping 30 Embraer 195-E2 regional jets. The agreement was unveiled at an African airline seminar organised by the airframer in Mauritius. Ten aircrafts were under firm contract and the agreement included purchase rights for another 20. The airline has become the first E2 operator on the African continent, according to Embraer.

The airline did not do this without purpose or calculations.

Airline experts project passenger traffic to double to 8.2 billion by 2037. Over the next two decades, the forecast anticipates a 3.5% compound annual growth rate leading up to the doubling in passenger numbers. ​

These figures underline the industry’s challenges to provide passengers with a seamless, secure and efficient end-to-end journey that is highly personalized.

To enable this vision, industry stakeholders will need to embrace a “passenger-centric” mindset and to adapt market trends and new technology when implementing products and services that meet their passengers’ expectations. These, most probably are the factors behind the massive investment in flying machines by Air Peace.

In another report, despite the global pandemic that has taken a toll on the aviation industry, air transport is said to contribute $10 billion to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria and other African countries.

Also, close to six million jobs would be supported by Africa’s air transport sector in the next 20 years as the pandemic eases.
A new report about the economic and social impact of aviation entitled “Aviation: The Real World Wide Web”, launched in London recently by Oxford Economics made the disclosures.

The report by Oxford Economics, a world leader in quantitative analysis and economic forecasting, provides an in-depth look at the aviation industry’s contribution to global economic development and social prosperity, while considering what that really means for individual countries, regions, towns, families and species.

Among other things, the report finds that air transport directly employs over 5.5 million people and contributes $425 billion to global GDP, which is more than several members of the G20.

According to the report, aviation’s GDP contribution is around one and a half times the size of the pharmaceutical industry ($270 billion GDP) or the textile industry ($286 billion GDP) and a third bigger than the motor production industry ($322 billion GDP).
When combined with its supply chain and dependent industries, including its contribution to tourism, aviation supports over 33 million jobs and $1.5 trillion GDP. As a country this would rank aviation in eighth position, between Italy and Spain.

An estimated 35 per cent of all trade in manufactured goods travel by air. This is worth some $3.5 trillion. Aviation, the report noted, currently generates $10 billion of Africa’s GDP, with the industry forecast to support five million jobs in the region in the next 20 years.

Therefore, the ambitious expansion moved by Air Peace is commendable because the airline is having the future in mind. The above statistics will expand and the aviation will continue to grow in relevance as the world economy improves .

It will also be the first time that such massive acquisition of new aircraft is happening in Nigeria. Oftentimes, most of the aircrafts  in Nigeria are refurbished ones. The moves will also be an avenue for the airline to explore opportunities that abound in the global market.

However, lots of questions have been raised on how ready Air Peace is, to comprehensively emerge as a front line player in this sector.  After all, even a trillion-dollar aircraft would not be used by angels, but fellow human beings.

Passengers’ experiences with Air Peace in the course of most of her local and international flights have a very disturbing trend.

Many travellers have a strong perception that Air Peace seems to enjoy cancelling or delaying flights frequently without obvious reasons. A passenger who used the airline last month said, “What you often get is some plastic apology announced by the pilot as you get into the plane.  I have used Air-Peace more than seven times last year. This particular trip last November, we were delayed for over four hours and even flights scheduled to leave after us on the same airline left before us and there was not a single apology from the ground staff”.

Ladi, another customer who wedded recently, shared her grievances. Her words: “My wedding was on the 30th of January. My husband-to-be booked his flight for 29th January 1:10. They cancelled it and there was no plane for the whole of 29th and 30th. This was after we’d prepared everything for my wedding. I am yet to recover from that embarrassment.”

Another lady and frequent Air Peace flyer also complained that last month, she booked a flight for her kids using Air Peace Airlines and they cancelled the flight due to some ludicrous reasons. After waiting for three days, she eventually demanded a refund since she could not wait forever. The refund they said takes four to five weeks.  She also vowed never to try the airline again.

Aside the challenges of customer relations which is common with many Nigerian airlines, another issue generating debate around Air Peace is that of safety.

The Accident Investigation Bureau of Nigeria at a time had admonished Air Peace for failing to report serious incidents on multiple occasions, and for overwriting cockpit voice recorders to conceal evidence.

On May 15, 2019, an Air Peace 737 flying from Port Harcourt to Lagos had a hard landing that resulted in damage to the engine pod and the landing gear. Air Peace delayed in reporting this incident to authorities.

Then on June 22, 2019, another Air Peace 737 flying from Abuja to Port Harcourt also ended up off the runway due to heavy rain, and came to a rest on soft mud.

Read Also: EMIRATES AIRLINE TO FLY TO NIGERIA AGAIN

While none of these incidents were fatal, experts  find it remarkably disturbing when such an airline has so many uncomfortable things happening within a short period.

No airline can afford to ignore the satisfaction of its passengers.
Buying every aircraft in the world might provide the initial excitement, but cannot be a substitute to quality customer service delivery. Success can only be achieved by providing customers with high-quality user experience.

Charles Danson

Categories: Economy, Features, Local

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