It was stunning to read on many platforms people urging Air Peace Airlines and its chairman to adopt a gung-ho approach in missed flights by the Emir of Kano. It is unhelpful to the airline. The critical issues involved include aviation practice, a penchant for flight delays becoming a negative rap, business interest and cultural communication.
A. AVIATION PRACTICE. People in the industry confirm that airlines delay flights in case of delays of the connecting flight. It would not be unusual for Air Peace to have done so for its passengers, regardless of the status. It would have been better if it did BECAUSE OF THE STATUS of the person who requested it. Prince Bayero claimed friendship with the Air Peace chairman as a former pilot and waved the status of the Emir of Kano. Unfortunately, a partisan supposedly speaking in favour of the airline has testified that Air Peace once delayed a flight for his entourage on a peace mission! It turns out the Emir and his people did not buy a connecting flight. They booked Banjul-Lagos and Lagos-Kano separately. Nevertheless.
B. PROCLIVITY FOR FLIGHT DELAYS. Air Peace Airline has become notorious for flight delays on local and international routes. It should not be grandstanding on this score. Last year, it recorded 55% flight delays. It is not a good record, whatever the reasons. Too many of its passengers have harrowing experiences to share.
C. BUSINESS INTEREST. A fundamental rule in marketing and communication states that the customer is always right. Rule 2 affirms, “When the customer is wrong, refer to Rule 1.” It was poor handling of a bad situation for Air Peace to engage in an exchange of news releases on the matter with the Kano prince. It is particularly so when it occasioned the delay in the first instance. What happened to a phone call once the fellow issued a news release trying to draw blood? Make no mistake: Prince Isa Bayero seeks to damage Air Peace. He complained to the regulator DEMANDING punishment then went to the media. What a friend.
D. CULTURAL COMMUNICATION. Intercultural communication is a big issue for businesses and individuals in our increasingly interconnected world. An enormous company such as Air Peace should have acute cultural sensitivity. So, a Kano prince wants to throw the status of their Emir into the mix of a business wrangle? Humour them. Honour them. Handle with circumspection.
E. Air Peace should stoop to conquer. Air Peace should send a high-powered team to Kano. It may not include Mr Onyema. Or Mr Onyema may get First Class chiefs from various parts of Nigeria to go with him, underlining the fact that it is a national airline. He could even get from Ghana and Sierra Leone. International airline. Humour and honour the Emirate and people of Kano. Make the Emir of Kano a Special Class passenger. Offer him privileges for the next three months. It is a business promotion.
F. SUSTAINABILITY. The airline should focus on continued growth and not flex egos with any customer. Air Peace should ignore those beating ethnic drums on both sides. The best practice is not to fight your customer and it applies to airlines as well as the corner shop.
By Chido Nwakanma, A PR Expert based in Lagos.