By Chinelo Obogo
Air Peace and United Nigeria Airline (UNA) would soon sign a deal that would ‘revolutionise’ the aviation sector, the chairman of UNA, Obiora Okonkwo has revealed.
Speaking during a gala held at The Dome in Abuja at the weekend to mark the first anniversary of UNA, Okonkwo said the aviation industry in Nigeria is long overdue for such collaboration.
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He said the deal which will be unveiled in the ‘next few days’ would usher in a new era of collaboration for better travel experience as such partnerships enhance business and improve capacity of airlines to overcome certain issues that lead to flight delays.
“In the next few days, we are going to sign an agreement with Air Peace of collaborations that will improve travel experiences in the country and also help address certain problems that arise in the course of flight operations”, he said.
If this planned agreement is signed, it will be the second code sharing and interlining agreement signed between two domestic airlines in the past year after Dana Air and Ibom Air signed a similar deal.
Okonkwo also drew attention to the habit of passengers physically assaulting airline staff and destroying airline and airport property as a way of expressing anger over flight delays or cancellations.
He said such actions are uncivil as staff are not in any way connected to issues that lead to flight delays or cancellation.
“Those airline officials that are beaten up and the property that are destroyed are not in any way connected to factors that cause flight delays. Those airline officials that are assaulted are relatives of people. They are working for their pay and do not have any hand in reasons flights are delayed. I am happy that the Airline Operators of Nigeria has condemned this development.
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“People ought to understand that no airline operator takes delight in keeping his aircraft on ground. Operators make money when their aircraft is flying. Aircraft on ground is loss to operators. So, when delays or cancellations happen, they happen for the safety of the traveler.
“Flight delays and cancelations happen in the aviation sector all over the world. When they happen, they are mostly for the safety of the passenger. So, I plead with our customers to show better understanding in this regard,” he said.
Commending the 16 members of staff of the airline who won different awards for their outstanding performance during the year, Okonkwo said the recipients had no prior experience in the aviation sector but have worked steadily to become the best.
“It is interesting to note that all the award recipients are people who did not have prior experience in the aviation sector. We employed them as greenhorns and have trained them to become the best. They were nominated by their colleagues for the awards and we make bold to say that this is a testimonial of our focus on human capital development. Every job opportunity at United Nigeria Airlines, is also an opportunity to develop veritable human capital for the industry and we are glad that we have some of the best in the industry who have also applied their expertise to train and nurture these greenhorns,” he said.