• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Why we chose Gatwick airport for London flight – Onyema

Allen Onyema, the Chairman and CEO of Air Peace Limited, has explained that the airline chose Gatwick Airport to operate its Lagos-London flight, which commences from March 30, 2024 because UK authorities refused to give the airline Heathrow.

Onyema who spoke on Arise TV yesterday, said that “The Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) we signed with the UK is this: you give me your primary airport; we give you our primary airport.

“British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways come to our country using our primary airports, Lagos and Abuja. When we applied, they told us Heathrow was not available to us and they were even suggesting London Stansted Airport or Luton. They also suggested Gatwick, I refused. I wanted to go to Heathrow, which is their primary airport.

“But after sometime we said okay, as Nigerians are groaning under the weight of high fares; we decided even if it is Scotland; we would go. So, we decided to take Gatwick. Gatwick was not really our choice but in the long run we decided to see some goods in choosing Gatwick.

“Many of our people live down South East part of London and there is heavy traffic into Central London from Heathrow, but at Gatwick, they allotted Southern terminal to Air Peace and when you get to south terminal, you get out of immigration, take your luggage, you walk into the Gatwick express train within three minutes and that will take you to Victoria, right into Central London.

“From the south terminal you have access to tube, you have access to national rail and you have access to road transport to other parts of UK. So, Gatwick has turned out to even be better for us. That’s why we took Gatwick,” Dr Onyema said.

He explained that after the airline decided on Gatwick it realized inherent benefits in choosing the airport, which include the fact that many Nigerians live in that part of London and there is less traffic in getting to Central London from Gatwick than from Heathrow.

He also said that in accordance to the BASA signed between UK and Nigeria, Air Peace was supposed to be offered UK’s primary airport, which is Heathrow, just as Nigeria offered its primary airports in Lagos and Abuja to British airlines: British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

But refusing to do that, Air Peace chose Gatwick and realized it could be beneficial to the airline’s operation, noting that it would be easier for the airline’s Nigerian passengers to get to their destinations from the airport and also to connect to other parts of the UK.