• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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FG to reciprocate any treatment meted on Air Peace on London route

The federal government has promised to reciprocate any treatments meted on Air Peace on its recently launched Lagos-London route.

Festus Keyamo, the minister of aviation and aerospace development in an interview during the Air Peace Lagos-London inaugural flight ceremony at the Murtala Muhammed International, Airport, Lagos on Friday said if any country or airline introduce obstacles to frustrate Air Peace’s operations, then Nigeria will also introduce theirs.

“If they introduce subtle obstacles to frustrate Air Peace, then we will introduce ours too. We must reciprocate,” Keyamo said.

Chris Najomo, the acting Director-General Civil Aviation (ADGCA), said that for indigenous airlines to succeed on any international routes, it was necessary for the government to adopt the Fly Nigeria Act for public officials.

Also, he promised that the NCAA would support Air Peace and other indigenous airlines to succeed on international routes unlike in the past.

“It is expected. It has been there even when I used to fly for Arik Air when the airline was going to London. It was there (aeropolitics). Now, because there is a Nigeria carrier on that route, we have given them 21 frequencies. This is just the beginning.

“It will be there and they will bring all sorts of ways to be able to cripple them, but I want to use this opportunity to tell the Federal Government to make a policy that Nigerians, government officials must fly Air Peace. That is my say here. I want the Federal Government to tell Nigerians “Fly Air Peace to London.”

The minister earlier stated that with Air Peace inaugural flight to London, there is passenger comfort especially as regards Nigerian food served onboard.

According to the minister, beyond passenger comfort, there will be competitive prices on international route.

“We are seeing that already. Other airlines have opened up their lower fare tickets to Nigerians now because Air Peace has come in. This is a very bullish approach to breaking the monopoly on this route. UK has 21 slots into our country every week. British Airways alone has 14 weekly slots.

“So, Air Peace will compete on this level. The most important one is that there would be no problem of trapped funds because it is a local company that will not have to repatriate money through the CBN. With the airlines that come to Nigeria; what we experience is massive repatriation of funds that puts pressure on the naira because they have to seek for dollars to repatriate from the sale of tickets.

“So, it eases the pressure on the naira because this is a Nigerian company that deals in naira. The only problem is that they still have to go abroad to do their aircraft maintenance. One of our major focus is to bring in the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MROs) into Nigeria. The key to unlocking this country is to ensure that the facilities come into the county as quickly as possible,” Keyamo explained.

Allen Onyema, the Chairman, Air Peace, said that Nigerian airlines required massive government support from the government, especially in the area of equipment acquisition for operators.

Onyema said that Air Peace was not new to international operations.

“Air Peace at present operates to China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and other regional routes. This is just a six -hour flight. A piece of cake. Air Peace flies to China on Wednesdays, 14 hours going and 14 hours coming back, no issues. We have 28 hours of flying in one day and half. Air Peace flies to India every week. 12 hours going, 13 hours coming back, no issues.

“Air Peace undertakes 160 hours of flying within this country everyday for the past seven years without blemish. What is a six-hour flight? It is a nonstarter.”

Air Peace operated its inaugural flight to London with Boeing 777-300 aircraft. The route would be serviced daily from Lagos.