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Heathrow Slot Controversy: Mixed Reactions Surround UK’s Allocation of London Airport to Air Peace

Amidst ongoing controversy surrounding the UK authorities’ refusal to allot a slot for Nigeria’s Air Peace airline at Heathrow Airport, stakeholders are pointing fingers at the Nigerian government for not supporting its indigenous airlines.

This dispute arose after Air Peace Chairman, Mr. Allen Onyema, revealed on Arise Television that the UK authorities proposed for the Nigerian carrier to operate into either London Stansted Airport or London Gatwick, rather than the more profitable London Heathrow Airport.

Mr. Onyema rejected the offer, citing the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between the two countries, which allows British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to operate into Nigeria’s primary airports. He advocated for Air Peace to operate flights to London Heathrow, similar to how UK airlines have been operating into Nigeria’s primary airports.

Former Nigeria Airways Marketing Director, Mr. Akinola Ojo, emphasized that BASA operates on reciprocity and noted that this issue has recurred in the Nigeria/UK route. He highlighted the imbalance in frequencies, where foreign countries are granted numerous weekly slots while Nigerian carriers face limitations due to non-granting of slots or visas.

Public Relations Officer, Mr. Simon Tumba, pointed out that slot allocation is the responsibility of both countries, stating that slots in Heathrow are scarce and expensive. He acknowledged that access in Gatwick is easier than in Heathrow, but stressed the importance of adhering to the rules and regulations.

Former Military Commandant of Lagos Airport, Group Captain John Ojikutu (Retired), argued that the UK did not violate the BASA agreement and blamed the Nigerian government’s lack of understanding of BASA’s benefits. He suggested designating Air Peace as a Flag Carrier and providing full government support.

The situation continues to stir mixed reactions, raising questions about the allocation of airport slots and the need for balanced agreements between countries.

SOURCE: Tribune Online

IMAGE: Vanguard

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