On the 5th of July this year, Air Peace Airline made history when it launched its all-female flight crew in a round trip flight from Lagos to Abuja and finally landed at Owerri Airport in Imo State. The flight had only women as the flight engineer, ground staff, dispatcher, cockpit crew and cabin crew.
The successful flight scored a feat in Nigeria’s aviation history and it happened under the leadership of the Managing Director of Air Peace Airline, Toyin Olajide, who is Nigeria’s first female to occupy that position.
According to her, the all-female flight was organized to show Nigerians how much the airline is supporting this country and respecting gender.
In an interview with The Sun, she speaks on how she became the first female Managing Director of Air Peace, which is a leading airline in Nigeria.
“I didn’t become Managing Director of Air Peace through written application. No, I applied as Head of Safety and was employed in February 2014 for the same position.
Two months after, I went to the School of Aeronautics, Sheffield, United States of America and got my Federal Aviation Authority (FAA licence).
When I came back to the country in early June, I was still functioning as Head of Safety, whose responsibility then was to oversee functions of the whole operations because you must be everywhere, all the departments.
If you are talking about aviation, your priority is safety which involves engineering, lights, capping, human resources etc. I was involved to review so many things in maintenance and operations. There was nothing I did not get involved in. I was just doing my best not knowing that my management was watching me.
One fateful midnight, my chairman called and asked me questions on the conversation we had earlier and I repeated all the things I said. He then said “Ok, check your mail”.
I picked up my laptop, lo and behold, I saw a mail from Human Resource (HR) congratulating me as the Managing Director and Acting Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace.
Then, I screamed loudly that it woke my husband up. He jumped out and asked what the problem was? The shock could not let me talk. I pushed the laptop to him.
It was the last thing that I expected. There was no hint from anybody. No interview, no clue, no briefing or at least no one asked if I could fit into the big shoe. Nothing like that at all.
But that night, I knelt down, raised my hands to God in prayers and said, “God in heaven, for the singular reason that I knew nothing about this appointment, I put Air Peace before you, that you would make it a success story.”
Yes, I have been in charge of departments of an airline but not running an entire airline. I do not know what it means to run an airline. But here we are four years after, basking in the grace of God.
I feel humbled and very grateful to God. It is quite exciting and at the same time it is a whole lot of responsibilities because you have a whole lot of people looking up to you who could not be let down.
It is challenging actually but at the same time, you know a lot of people are looking up to you. You want to continue to give it your very best, especially for the young females out there, you want them to know that nothing can stop anyone.
If you set your mind to achieve something, it is possible and do-able. If I can be the COO of this airline today, anybody, any woman, any female, any lady or any young girl out there can also be the COO of any airline or industry in the world. It is doable with a lot of determination and God on one’s side. That I believe strongly”.