Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace, has said that although he is not a saint, he does not have any relationship with female cabin crew members.
The aviation mogul said contrary to what people thought due to the number of beautiful ladies in his airline’s crew, he was not interested in anything other than business.
In a chat with Nigerian Tribune, the Anambra-born businessman said he has had to sack some female employees who made advances towards him.
“People tried to get me, but I have never fallen into temptation. I’m not Saint Allen, but if you don’t draw a line between your business and certain tendencies, you will have yourself to blame. Some people often say; ‘Allen, your cabin crew members are very beautiful. How do you cope with these girls? if I were you, everyday, I will take one or two. That’s what they tell me.
“To me, it can’t happen. Some people come here to look for job, but they are not really here to work. Rather, they are here to get Allen. We have seen some of them. When we employ them, they will resign because they could not get Allen. It has happened several times and on my own, I have sacked somebody for behaving inappropriately towards me that same day.
“You have to be strong. I am friendly with all my staff, both males and females, but there must be a line. So I have never been tempted. I have a beautiful wife,” he said.
The University of Ibadan law graduate his airline was growing rapidly because he was in business to serve mankind and not to make money. He explained that he had chosen to go into aviation business due to a bad experience he had with a company in 2010.
Onyema revealed that he, together with his American business partners, had been forced to fly in a small aircraft to Obubra in Cross River State. He added that his protest had caused him to be insulted, making him vow to challenge them by floating his own airline.
“Many customers who had already been checked in, could not fly. I was among them. They did not even tell us anything. We protested. The station manager then used foul words on my entourage and that offended me.
“Angrily, I told him they were not serious and I was going to challenge them as I would float my own airline. The intention to float an airline, however, did not come in 2010, but in 2007 when I was looking for ways to give back to the society.
“How could I be in a country where, despite its potential, people could not get employed? Around you is high poverty. People always come to me to ask for money to do business and when you give them, they will come to you again and again. Someone called and said instead of giving these people money, why not create a business that would employ people?
“It was at that point again that somebody told me to go into the aviation business and that a commercial Boeing 737 could employ about 1,000 people. I started studying and I became passionate about it. In less than four years, Air Peace has employed over 3,000 people.
“In a country where minimum wage is N18,000, Air Peace pays N35,000 for cleaners,” he said.
Onyema also denied claims from different quarters that Air Peace had the ‘defective’ Boeing 737 Max 8 in its fleet. He stated that although the airline had ordered 10 brand new planes, it was due to be delivered in four years’ time.
“Something happened with Ethiopian Air and Air Peace is suffering it in Nigeria. What is our own business there? Initially, they said they were using old planes; those aircraft are junks, etc. When we bought new ones, they said our aircraft is unsafe and they are now calling for my head, as if the incident happened to Air Peace.
“Deliberate falsehood, some of them even said we have four of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in our operations. We don’t have 737 Max 8 in our fleet. Last year, we ordered for 10 of it and we should be applauded for buying 10 brand new planes. However, our order can only be actualised in about four years time, not now.
“We don’t have Max 8 aircraft in Air Peace. So why are they trying to de-market us? More worrying is the ethnic angle, with them saying;”greedy Ibo man. He bought dangerous aircraft to kill Nigerians and has refused to send the planes back”. Meanwhile, we don’t have such planes. We are becoming a wicked county where success is not appreciated,” he stated.