Senior government officials, aviation agency chiefs, aviation workers and airline passengers on Thursday celebrated Air Peace during the airline’s maiden first all-female operated Lagos-Abuja, Abuja-Owerri, Owerri-Abuja and Abuja-Lagos flights.
The crew comprised Capt. Sinmisola Ajibola, Senior First Officer Quincy Owen, Rosemary Uagbor, cabin executive, Chidimma Chimezie and Cabin Executive, Opakirite Georgei.
The other women were Engineer Justina Etim, who signed out the aircraft in Lagos and dispatchers Chisom Onyeakposi and Olubukola Olajiga while Ladi Amadu and Loretta Ekeh dispatched the flight in Abuja and Owerri respectively.
The all-female flight, which left the local wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, for Abuja Airport, was operated days after Air Peace produced its first female Captain, Sinmisola Ajibola.
Speaking at Abuja Airport, the airline’s managing director and chief executive officer, Mr. Allen Onyema aid the flights were operated in Ajibola’s honour to promote gender equality in the nation’s aviation sub-sector and project Nigerian women as capable of standing tall among their male and female counterparts across the world.
He said over 20 key positions in the airline, including those of the vice chairman, chief operating officer and chief of finance and administration are occupied by women.
He said the women have demonstrated excellent capacity to deliver on their tasks adding that about 1500 of the airline’s 2000 staff are women.
“Air Peace is an airline run by women. We are very proud of giving women opportunities to excel because we believe that there is nothing that men can do which women cannot do.
“We want to encourage our female children that they should aspire to be whatever they want to be by emulating what our female flight and cabin crew members have done today,’’ Onyema said.
For his part, the minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, praised Air Peace for joining the league of airlines that had operated flights in which the cockpit, cabin, engineering and dispatch crews were women.
The minister, who was represented by the director, safety and technical policy, ministry of transportation, Capt. Talba Alkali, said the gesture “has shown that Air Peace is gender-friendly.”
“Air Peace has made a tremendous impact on the industry and we as regulators and the ministry will continue to create an enabling environment for the airline and other domestic airlines to thrive. Today’s event is yet another testament of the safety of our airspace and we will continue to work with the airlines to make it safer,” he added.
Also present at the event were the director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Muhtar Usman and the managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr. Saleh Dunoma.
Usman and Dunoma, who were represented by Mr. Abiodun Adeyemi and manager of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Mahmud Sani respectively, said they were proud of the milestones the carrier had recorded since it started scheduled flights.
Speaking on behalf of the crew, Ajibola thanked Air Peace for giving them the opportunity to conduct the historic flight, adding that Nigerians should get used to having women in the cockpit.
“There are times we are boarding and the men will see me in the cockpit and they will behave like: ‘Is it a female flying us? Are we safe? And we laugh about it, because it is 2018.We expect people to be conversant with having females in their cockpits. But I guess we will give them a little more time to understand that what the men can do, we equally can do,” she said.
The Boeing B737-300 aircraft with Ajibola in command and co-piloted by Owen landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to a spectacular water salute performed by men of the Fire Service Department of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
It was followed by a rousing welcome by passengers, government officials, aviation regulators and other well-wishers.
From Abuja, the aircraft flew into the Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airport, Owerri for another ceremony of water salute and welcome from passengers and airport workers.