Following the loss of revenue due to closure of airports nationwide to combat the spread of the COVID-19 Air Peace has announced that it will down size its operations by 60 percent as flights resume in few weeks.
Chief Executive Officer of the airline, of Mr. Allen Onyema, said this will entail a reduction in the number of daily flights and aircraft deployed for effective use pending when things could pick up.
He added that in view of this, there will be no in-flight service again onboard its domestic flights across its routes network while activities of the Airline’s workforce will also be affected.
Onyema who spoke during a webinar organised by Aelex Partners with the theme: “Survival Strategies for Nigerian Airlines,” said the action will affect some of the workforce activities stating that some staff maybe asked to stay home until the situation improves.
He was of the view that on resumption, passenger traffic would be low due to fear passenger may entertain regarding air travel and to this end; a lot has to be done to encourage people to travel again.
He said few of its aircraft would be deployed at resumption and the number of flights equally reduced.
In his explanation, “out of our 13 Boeing 737 aircraft, we are only going to deploy four of them, out of our eight ERJ aircraft; we are going to deploy only six because those ones are just 50-seater, so we will manage with those ones.
“From 100 flights per day, Air Peace is going down to 42 flights, so going to Abuja will no longer be every hour, doing downsizing of your operations is good in cutting cost, so, we are downsizing our operations to almost about 60 per cent, we are going to do about 40 per cent of our operations and even in that 40 per cent, we are not going to carry 40 per cent of the passengers we use to carry before.
“Passenger figures are not going to be the same again like what it used to be years back, everything has changed, so going into operations, a new set of regulations will emerge,” Onyema explained.
According to him, with the reduction in the number of flights, few staffers would be required for the operations.
He, however, emphasised that Air Peace was not sacking any staff member, adding that when flight increases more staffers would be brought in.
“Even we at Air Peace, we are going to down size, I expect every airline to down size because the passengers are not going to be there in the beginning, it will take time, so if you push out all your planes, you have yourself to blame,” he pointed out.
Onyema said staff must understand that the airlines have to stay afloat and restart its business and must be profitable for them to be active participants.
He stated that workers who might be affected by the action to be taken by the airlines should see this as sacrifices for the stability of the airline business.
He said: “So, what happens to the staff? I suggest that what airlines should do because you cannot pretend that you can carry all of them the same time, when you go down, they go down finally and permanently and forever, no hope for survival again.
“So even the staff must understand that they have a collective Commonwealth which is the airline and that the airline must survive for them and their family to survive and to make the airline survive, sacrifices must be made at this point in time, airlines must downsize their workforce. I see some unions talking about if anyone sacks anybody, I don’t understand, they are just grandstanding, they can do it, airlines have not been flying for two months, airlines live by the day all over the world, even bigger airlines have been closing, going into bankruptcy.”
On no serving of food on flights, Onyema said the era of serving food (snacks, cooked foods which may also include drinks) are over, adding that in other climes, nobody is served food except water.
He urged Nigerian airlines who intend staying in the business to toll this line as this period is not a time to engage in competition of winning over customers with food.
He further explained: “Now we are doing short flights in Nigeria, flight of 40 minutes or 30 minutes at most one and a half hours, this is the most important thing every airline is to do, you don’t need any Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) or the regulator to tell you what to do. Cut out feeding, time has come for Nigerian airlines to stand up and stand firm, if one airline says I want to drag customers to ourselves, we want to serve food, we want to serve pounded yam and egusi, good luck to the person. But going forward I think Nigerian airlines should stop serving food, in American two hours flight they serve nothing; they give you water. In Nigeria, somebody flying from Lagos to Akure for about 25 minutes flight, he will expect you to give him pounded yam.
“We must now as an industry stop serving food on Nigerian routes, if anyone wants to serve food, good luck to the person but Air Peace will not give anybody food going forward.”
To maintain health safety, Onyema advised less interaction of crew with passengers and that the wearing of face masks must be a most.
“The less interaction you have with passengers onboard the better for the staff and better for the passenger, the issue of wearing masks is compulsory,” he advised.