• Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Respite for travellers as AirPeace commences flights to South Africa

Yuletide: Air Peace assures customers of adequate seats

Respite has come for travellers as Nigeria’s largest domestic carrier commenced flights to Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday.

The flight which took off from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, in the early hours of Thursday had passengers, staff of AirPeace and journalists onboard.

Since South African Airways suspended flight operations, Nigerians travelling to South Africa have had to connect flights to about two or three countries to get to South Africa since there were no direct flights going to the destination.

Travellers had complained of how stressful connecting these flights was. Therefore, they expressed how pleased they were to have a Nigerian carrier doing a direct flight to the route.

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Speaking during the commencement of the inaugural flight at Lagos airport, Toyin Olajide, chief operating officer at AirPeace, said the airline was most delighted to commence its second international flight from Lagos to Johannesburg.

Olajide said for AirPeace to commence another international flight at a time like this shows it is an airline to reckon with and it is here to stay.

South Africa’s state-owned airline had on September 30th suspended all its operations as it struggles to raise a bailout of more than 10 billion rands ($591 million).

South African Airways, one of the country’s state-owned enterprises, facing allegations of corruption and mismanagement, filed for liquidation and bankruptcy protection in December last year.

The business rescue team assigned to manage the company announced it has failed to raise the money needed to implement a rescue plan for the airline. The suspension of operations may be lifted if the government comes through with funds it has promised.

One of the most frequently visited or residing countries for Nigeria in Africa is South Africa.

At the moment, it’s estimated that over 100,000 Nigerians are living in South Africa.

The two countries have close social and financial relations. In 2012, the total bilateral trade between Nigeria and South Africa has grown to $3.6 billion. The Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce was created to encourage and facilitate bilateral trade relationships between the two countries. Its offices are in Lagos, Nigeria, and it has in its membership 315 companies currently trading in both Nigeria and South Africa.

John Ojikutu, aviation security consultant and secretary-general of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), told BusinessDay that Nigeria is a huge market for AirPeace but it needs to be mindful of the operations and the activities of Ethiopian Airlines in East, Central and South Africa and the existing alliances with the airlines in these regions.

“Don’t forget also the Rwandan Air too; there are connections between the airlines of these regions which Air Peace may have to contend with if it cannot go into operating alliances with them as they have with themselves,” Ojikutu stated.