Air Peace has said it is sticking with its order of Boeing 737 Max that was recently recertified to restart operations.
Allen Onyema, the chairman and chief executive officer of the airline made this known while taking delivery of Nigeria’s biggest domestic carriers second brand new Embraer E195-2 in Abuja on Thursday. Timeline for delivery the Boeing 737 Max has not been announced.
Onyema said that the airline plans to replace the older aircraft in its fleet, made largely of B737 classics with the Boeing 737 MAX and the Embraer E195-E2 in addition to the eight E145, which provides service to low passenger traffic airports.
“We are not phasing out our Boeing aircraft, part of our business plan is that as we are getting the brand new planes, we would be phasing out the old ones, but remember that we are bringing in brand new Boeing 737 Max,” he said.
The chairman also said that currently about 20 of Air Peace aircraft are in maintenance facilities overseas and some of them are expected to return soon. What delayed delivery of the aircraft was the Covid-19 lockdown that forced maintenance facilities to shut down.
“Most of the countries, where these planes were taken to, are in various levels of lockdown and as a result, the pace of work on our planes has slowed down. This has depleted our capacity both within and outside Nigeria,” Onyema said.
Air Peace is not alone in this situation. All the older airlines are experiencing the same thing. The only airlines that may not be having these challenges are the very new airlines within and outside Nigeria because they are just starting. But those about seven years are all doing C-checks. But before the end of July, all our planes that are in maintenance will be brought back, the chairman explained.
Another problem he pointed out was the shortage of dollars, which he said is affecting the aviation industry very seriously because “everything we do is in dollars. We have not been able to discharge our obligations to foreign maintenance organisations because you need dollars to give them. We have the naira but to get dollars is difficult,” he said.
Onyema observed that the Central Bank of Nigeria has been making it easier for them, although more is required to further ease access to foreign exchange.
“The existing planes we took for maintenance abroad will be coming in by June and we would fill the country with our planes. The economy section of our new aircraft is like the business class of other airlines. I’m a nationalist and I believe in this country; that’s why I want the best planes for Nigerians,” he said.