Air Peace has reacted to a complaint letter by Prince Isa Bayero to the director general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), noting that, the airline never disrespected the Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero, but took actions to protect his image.
Bayero, a cousin to the Emir of Kano, had written a letter of complaint to NCAA, seeking punitive actions against Air Peace Airline for what he described as disrespect to the emir and the people of Kano state.
In the petition to NCAA on Thursday, Bayero, popularly known as Isa Pilot, said the airline delayed their Banjul to Lagos flight by over one hour and refused to allow them board their connecting flight to Kano because they arrived in Lagos 30 minutes before departure time.
In a statement signed by Toyin Olajide, Chief Operating Officer, Air Peace Ltd, she said rather than disrespect the revered Emir of Kano, Air Peace did everything to protect the name and image of the emir from ridicule by not succumbing to what Isa Bayero wanted them to do.
Olajide said if the airline had agreed to stop and delay an aircraft, already set to take-off, for another one hour only for the doors to be opened and the Emir to walk in, there would have been a very serious uproar in the media nationwide against both the airline and the Emir. “This we pleaded with Isa Bayero to understand but he refused to accept,” she stated.
“How could Isa Bayero want the Management of Air Peace to stop and delay a fully boarded plane with doors already shut and aircraft already moving while our respected Emir and eight others in his entourage, including Isa Bayero, were still at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos after arriving from Banjul?
Olajide noted that, “From the telephone log evidence on the phone of our Chairman/CEO, Allen Onyema, Isa Bayero called our chairman at about 5.52am, at a time he was still sleeping. From the same log, it could be seen that Isa called him again at 5.59am.
This call woke him up and on seeing that it was Isa Bayero calling, he took the call. Isa told our chairman that he and the Emir of Kano had just landed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos from Banjul, Gambia and would be proceeding to Kano the same morning.
He told the chairman to delay our first flight of the day, the 6:15 am Lagos-Kano flight for him and the Emir with another eight persons.
“It was not true that our Chairman refused flatly. He rather told Isa Bayero to give him a few minutes to call the airport to find out the status of the flight. I was the one he called. To show his desire to help, he called me immediately and intimated me with the request.
“I am the chief operating officer (COO) of Air Peace. I quickly called the local airport from where we carry on our day to day domestic flight operations and was told that the aircraft had since finished boarding and was almost taxiing out.
“I quickly called Isa Bayero with this information and I expressed our desire to put him, their entourage and the Emir of Kano on our 7.00am Lagos- Abuja flight and that on landing in Abuja, we would then put him on our flight going to Kano at no cost to them. Isa Bayero refused this offer; he insisted that the already taxiing aircraft should be stopped and delayed until the Emir and the other eight persons arrive from the international airport.
She explained that, “At this point, as stated earlier, Isa Bayero and the Emir of Kano had just landed at the international wing of the airport, this means they would still need to go through Immigration, get their baggage and, of course, clear with Customs before entering the morning Lagos traffic to get to the local wing of the airport. This would mean that the passengers in the plane ready to depart would have to wait in the plane for nothing less than an hour.”
Olajide disclosed that she called Isa Bayero to explain the status and also to proffer a solution, which would be a win -win for both the waiting passengers and the Emir, adding that they decided instead to fly the Emir and his entourage on the 7am flight to Abuja and then from Abuja to Kano at no extra cost.
The COO added that the decision was then to fly them from Abuja to Kano still in the morning considering the next flight from Lagos to Kano was for 7: 00 pm.
“We took this decision so as to defend the image of our highly revered Emir of Kano and not as an insult as insinuated by Isa Bayero because if passengers were delayed for an hour after boarding and ready to fly and then to see the Emir and his entourage walk in, considering the pulse of the general public lately due to the complaints of delays, it would not have done justice to the image and character of the Emir.
“After explaining this to Isa Bayero, he threatened that he would incite the people of Kano against the Airline if we did not stop the flight. When I reported this statement to the Chairman, he did not believe me and insinuated that I may not have heard him right because Isa Bayero was well acquainted with him and could not have said such.
“It is therefore to my utmost shock that we saw in the media this deliberate falsehood,” she said.