Air Peace has put on hold the launch of its Freetown, Banjul, and Dakar operations, originally scheduled for December 15, following industrial action at Dakar International airport in Senegal.
The airline said while all was set for the regional route expansion, a strike by the Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) at Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport, Dakar, and a temporary closure of the airport, render the west coast operation incomplete.
Meanwhile, the airline has apologised for flight delays and cancellations experienced on Monday and Tuesday at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) of Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, blaming it on power outage.Spokesperson of the airline, Chris Iwarah, said the west coast delay is temporary as the proper launch will take place as soon as the industrial action is settled.
According to Iwarah, “Members of our advance crew were already on ground in Dakar when we received the news around midnight of December 14, the eve of the launch that Dakar’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) would shut down on December 15, which we had planned to operate our inaugural flight into the destination.
“This development completely upset our plan, as Dakar is critical to the new routes launch. We had no choice than to take the painful decision to call off the launch to avoid our esteemed guests getting stuck in the area despite the huge financial and material resources we had committed to the process. Our decision to call off the launch turned out to be quite right as members of our advance crew were eventually caught in the industrial unrest and got stuck in Dakar.”
He added that the incident, rather than discourage them from servicing the routes, has more than ever fuelled the resolve to tackle the difficulties experienced by air travellers on the routes.
“We have immediately begun fresh arrangements to expand to the routes and when we are really certain that the industrial unrest in Dakar has been fully settled, we will announce a new launch date and deliver on our promise to end the nightmare of air travellers on the routes,” Iwarah said.
The Guardian learnt that the cut in power supply at the GAT on Monday, affected the airline’s server room and other facilities critical to its flight operations.
The airline said it had to resort to alternative arrangements to save its operations from entirely grinding to a halt pending the intervention of the managers of the facility – the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).However, despite the measures taken to salvage the situation, the incident occasioned a lot of delays and outright cancellation of some of its flights.