• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Air Peace’s symbolic and economic milestone for Nigeria

Air Peace, capitalism, and national interest!

Much buzz and applause followed the inaugural Lagos-London-Lagos flight of Air Peace Airlines on March 30, 2024. The flight portrayed the Nigerian character of marking significant events with colour and panache. It was fitting and deserved.

Passengers represented a good cross-section of the Nigerian elite from the public and private sectors. Allen Onyema, the airline’s chairman, led alongside his wife, Alice Onyema, and the chairman of United Nigeria Airline, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo.

Read also: Air Peace alerts passengers of fake UK website

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, led government officials. At the Lagos pre-departure event were Doris Uzoka-Anite, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, and Chris Najomo, acting director, general, NCAA. At the London end, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Sarafa Isola, led the Nigerian community in the UK to welcome the passengers.

There were many leaders in business and the professions. They included Mr. Olu Akpata, the immediate past president of the Nigerian Bar Association, and Prof. Mike Ozekhome. Entertainment figures added glitz. They included actresses Uche Jombo, Chioma Akpotha, Ufuoma McDermott, and Omoni Oboli.

Air Peace flew into Gatwick Airport based on its Foreign Carrier Operator Permit and Third Country Operator Permit, which it obtained in November 2023. The permits would enable it to operate flights to Europe and the United Kingdom.

The flight came seven years after Med-View Airline flew into London as the last Nigerian carrier to fly the popular and lucrative route.

The Air Peace inaugural Lagos-London flight on March 30, 2024, was significant for Nigeria’s aviation industry and economy.

As the Minister for Industry, Trade, and Investment stated, “Nigeria has needed a local airline flying directly to the UK for several years. Air Peace proudly wears the badge ‘Made in Nigeria.’ It symbolises our collective effort to showcase our capabilities to the world. From the skilled hands that maintain the aircraft to the warm smiles of the cabin crew, every aspect of Air Peace reflects the spirit of our nation.

“Let us reflect on the economic impact of this flight. Air Peace’s presence in London concerns not only arrivals and departures but also trade, investment, and collaboration.

“By choosing Air Peace, you choose to invest in Nigeria. You chose to empower local businesses, create jobs, and strengthen our economy. In December 2023, the UK exported £185 million to Nigeria and imported £154 million, resulting in a negative trade balance of £30.8 million. We wish to change this trend in Nigeria’s favour, and an additional trade route is a major step in the right direction.”

Read also: FG to reciprocate any treatment meted on Air Peace on London route

Air Peace Lagos-London is primarily a boost for Nigerian aviation. It marked a significant achievement for a Nigerian airline, showcasing its ability to compete again on a critical international route.

Air Peace’s entry into the Lagos-London route has spurred competition, benefiting Nigerian travellers. It forced a significant reduction in airfares on that busy route.

Air Peace on that route carries the hopes and aspirations of over 200 million Nigerians.

The foreign airlines embarked on a callous treatment of Nigerians through price gouging and cruel treatment for months. It was not just an arbitrary increase in fares; they made it impossible for Nigerian passengers with flying miles to use the miles they accumulated through loyal patronage. It is good that the government has given unqualified support to Air Peace, and it will reciprocate any unfair treatment.

Air peace from Lagos to London would impact the Nigerian economy. It will reduce the pressure on the naira by decreasing the demand for foreign exchange for travel. The new route could create jobs for pilots, cabin crew, ground staff, and support services. It could also facilitate trade and investment between Nigeria and the UK. Then, it offers more options for Nigerians and other West Africans on that route.

Air Peace has demonstrated its commitment to providing exceptional service with the successful launch of service on this route. This milestone showcases the airline’s dedication to expanding its routes and highlights its efforts to connect Nigeria to critical international destinations.

Introducing the Lagos-London-Lagos route will enhance air travel options for Nigerians, promote tourism, and foster economic growth. The airline’s continuous expansion and investment in new routes are commendable and reflect its vision to become a leading player in aviation.

Before London, Air Peace demonstrated its love and commitment to Nigerians. When Nigerians were being attacked in the Xenophobia killings in SA, Air Peace stepped up to fly home stranded compatriots. When COVID-19 struck and Nigerian students became stranded in China, Air Peace came to the rescue again. Air Peace flies the flag and hopes of millions of Nigerians.

Read also: Airfares nosedive on international route over FX, Air Peace debut

Nigerians must rally behind and support our homegrown airlines, like Air Peace. By choosing to fly with Air Peace, we contribute to the growth of our aviation sector and help showcase the capabilities and potential of Nigerian businesses on the global stage.

Let us show our solidarity and pride in Air Peace’s achievements by choosing to fly with them, promoting their services, and encouraging others to experience the quality and convenience they offer. Together, we can help Air Peace soar to greater heights and solidify its position as a reputable airline locally and internationally.

Air Peace will do well to ensure safe and on-time flights.