Flight shortage: Dana, AirPeace move to boost fleet

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Indigenous carriers, Air Peace and Dana Air have moved to address flight shortage presently challenging the Nigerian aviation sector, as the separately announced moves aimed at lifting the plight of air travelers who have been subjected to air fare increases on major routes in the country.

Flight shortages at the two Lagos airport domestic terminals; the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Terminal 2 and the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) forced untold hardship on travellers who were forced to pay over 50 per cent more for flight tickets on the Abuja-Lagos/Abuja-Port Harcourt routes.

The airlines said the flight shortage may not be unconnected with the C-Checks their aircraft are presently undergoing abroad.

Addressing newsmen on the completion of its re-certification exercise conducted by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dana Air revealed plans to acquire more aircraft in 2019 as part of a strategic route and fleet expansion programme.

The airline also assured its passengers and potentials of additional flights to ease the pain of travelers who have had to bear the high cost of tickets as a result of flight shortage across the country.

Media and Communications Manager, Kingsley Ezenwa, during a chat with newsmen in Lagos said, ‘we have finally concluded our re-certification exercise with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

Re-certification in Nigeria’s aviation industry is a standard practice conducted every two years by the NCAA and during the period, an airline’s operation is totally reviewed from ground handling to quality assurance and particularly safety standards and we are glad to have scaled this rigorous process.

The Dana Air spokesman while thanking the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority for carrying out a thorough check on its operations before re-certifying the airline decried a negative report by an online platform during the course of the re-certification describing it as unnecessary.

‘For the records, Dana Air presently has 5 aircraft out of which 2 are undergoing mandatory maintenance which in aviation is called C-checks. The safety and comfort of our guests comes first before any other consideration and we find such report really unnecessary.

We advise the purveyors of such report to rather commend us, having served Nigeria for over 10 years and counting and showing massive commitment to changing the narrative about domestic airlines and Nigeria’s aviation industry as viable,’’ he said.

On its part, Air Peace assured that it will be deploying more aircraft to service destinations currently experiencing air travel difficulties urging the flying public not to panic over the shortage of scheduled flights on domestic routes.

A statement issued by Air Peace Corporate Communications Manager, Mr. Chris Iwarah said the carrier was concerned about reports of shortage of scheduled flights across the country and was ready to do everything within its capacity to ease the pain of air travellers.

The airline confirmed that the nation had been facing air travel difficulties since it reviewed its flight schedule downward on account of five of its aircraft it pulled out of service and sent abroad for C-check.

“In the last few weeks, we have been inundated with demands for flights by members of the flying public who wish to travel but could not secure seats as almost all our flights on major domestic routes are fully booked. We are genuinely concerned about the plight of the travelling public and sincerely empathise with them.

“The situation became dire after we recently pulled out five of our aircraft from service for maintenance abroad and had to necessarily review our flight schedule downward to avoid delaying our valued customers. A check on our reservation platform indicates that almost all our flights are fully booked till the end of the year.

“We, however, are aware of the role we play in ensuring seamless air travel in Nigeria and are not going to let down our dear country and members of the flying public now that they need us the most. We urge members of the flying public not to entertain any fear. Beginning from Sunday, most of our aircraft that went for C-check will start to return to join our operations. We are soon going to schedule more flights and deploy more aircraft across our domestic routes.

“We have also made plans to cater to the upsurge expected during the Yuletide. A lot of flights would be scheduled from around December 17, 2018 to seamlessly take those travelling for Christmas and the New Year to their destinations. As an airline that prioritises safety and places a premium on the lives of our valued guests and crew, we have undertaken comprehensive maintenance of most of our aircraft to ensure their readiness for our end-of-year operations.

This is the least we can do for our esteemed customers and nation for their support for us. We will do everything within our capacity to rise to the challenge of air travel currently facing our nation and deliver exceptional service that is sure to leave the flying public truly comfortable, proud and satisfied,” Air Peace assured.

Following the flight shortage, an Air Peace Economy Class one way ticket on the Lagos-Abuja route, last Friday, sold for N32, 700, as against N25, 500 before the flight shortage.

Similarly, a Lagos-Port Harcourt one way ticket was selling for N42, 700 as against the previous fare of N35, 000, while Lagos-Uyo one way, was sold for N42, 700 as against N30, 700.

An Arik Air economy class one way ticket from Lagos-Abuja was sold for N27, 548 as against N22, 560, while Lagos-Port Harcourt one way, was sold for N39, 000, as against previous fare of N30, 700.

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