Air Peace has raised one of its pilots, Sinmisola Ajibola, to the rank of flight Captain. This promotion, announced on Monday, makes Ajibola the air carrier’s first ever female captain, and one of only a few to have held this post in Nigeria’s aviation industry.
Ajibola, who joined Air Peace in February 2017 as a Senior Flight Officer, could also become something of a poster lady for the airline’s ambitious forward-looking agenda. Her employers have cast the appointment as a demonstration of their commitment to leveling the playing field for its workers, regardless of their gender.
Air Peace’s Chief Pilot, Captain Victor Egeonu, says he’s always known Ajibola was going to set the record she’s achieved. While handing her to the company’s CEO, Allen Onyema, for decoration formalities, he noted that he had predicted Ajibola’s coming captaincy on the first flight he flew with her.
On his part, Onyema chose to bear out the company’s trust in Ajibola’s ability to execute the task she’s now being saddled with. He described her achievement as outstanding, and spoke of his pride in what she had accomplished. He also urged her to remain a high performer on the job.
Ajibola’s role as captain puts her in charge of the safety of the airlines’ passengers on flights for which she will be responsible. This includes determining the airworthiness of the company’s airplanes for specific flights, the suitability of weather conditions for flights, and a range of supervisory duties.
Ajibola is reported to belong to a family of pilots; her two brothers, Ademola and Adeoye, have gone along with her in their father’s career footsteps. Both are also employed by Air Peace.
women in aviation
Beyond replicating familial success, Ajibola’s decoration as captain is the newest phase in a long, still unfolding story of women’s involvement in the flight business. It harks back to the licensing of Captain Chinyere Kalu as Nigeria’s first female commercial pilot back in 1981, as well as the other milestones that have been reached since then.
Air Peace is keen on making a statement with this latest decoration. But it does already have a number of women on its team working across various parts of the West African sub region. Four of its carrier stations are run by women: Kachollom Nyiam-Zang handles operations at the Abuja station, and Chiaka Nwosunjoku is in charge of the Port Harcourt office. Shola Ogunwuyi and Aanuolowapo Olatunbi run the Accra and Banjul stations respectively. The airline also has eight female pilots working for it.
Highlighting the role of women in its growth and regional expansion appears to be a strategy being deployed by Air Peace to spruce up its brand image. It certainly feeds into a positive vibe that has been emerging from the airline in recent times. Some of its other contemporary achievements include the launch of flights to Kano and Yola, as well as to Freetown, Dakar and Accra. The upbeat stories coming out of the company at the moment can only do it much good.