•‘Deal will strengthen Nigeria, US bond’
Nigeria’s airline, Air Peace airlines has signed a deal with Boeing, a United States-based airline manufacturer for the purchase of 10 new aircraft.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Mr Allen Onyema, said the order would arrive soon, adding that the airline’s fleet of aircraft had risen to 37.
At the signing ceremony for the sale of the 10 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at the US Consul General’s residence in Lagos, Onyema said Air Peace had achieved another first, describing the firm as “the first West African airline to own the latest Boeing innovation.”
He explained that the airline has a firm order for 10 aircraft and in doing so, “Air Peace has joined the big league. We are doing this because we are interested in creating massive job opportunities; one Boeing 737 MAX aircraft can give jobs to over 500 people. We are looking at the teeming unemployed youths in Nigeria.
“When you are buying a brand new aircraft, it comes with some package to help the operator undertake the new entry into its operations. Boeing has given us a lot of incentives. Those incentives will come in the way of training, spares and some other support to help us achieve a smooth transition.”
Onyema, who declined comments on the total amount being paid for the 10 aircraft while answering questions from journalists, said the price of each was around $130m.
He added: “We are not even paying anything near it ($130m). The support we are getting from Boeing and the American government is very massive.
“As of today, we have 27 aircraft. There are some that we purchased that are not yet in the country. So, if you add the new order, the number of our aircraft is 37. Air Peace will be four years old operation-wise in October.”
According to him, the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will help reduce the fuel costs being incurred by the airline.
Onyema said: “The Classic we are using are rugged planes, very powerful and safe. However, the fuel consumption of the Classic is enormous. What you put in to fly from here to Abuja, you can use it in a Boeing 737 to go to Australia and come back. So, you can see the savings we are going to make. Fuel, they say all over the world, takes about 40 per cent of your cost of operation.
“But I disagree; in Nigeria, it takes about 70 per cent, because they can wake up this morning and give you one price. As your flight is landing in Abuja, they may change their price and give you another price. By the time the aircraft is coming back in the evening, you may be having another price.”
The Air Peace boss, therefore, called on the government to do something about ramping up domestic refining, adding, “Let’s deregulate the industry. I support having refineries that produce aviation fuel for the country so that the cost of running airline operations will come down.”