Posed by Sade Williams
Nigerians are already expressing optimism in their own brand, for more exciting travel options, services and products as West Africa’s biggest carrier, Air Peace is planning to launch its foray into international operations next month with three B777 in its fleet of over 26 aircraft.
The carrier is assuring it would offer Nigerians and other air travellers a dependable and comfortable alternative on the Sharjah, Dubai, London, Houston, Guangzhou-China, Mumbai and Johannesburg routes, where the Federal government has designated it to fly into.
Air Peace is International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certified. IOSA is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.
Currently, there are no Nigerian carriers flying to any of the international routes, except the foreign airlines which, Nigerians think have had enough chunk of the market and have dictated the pricing in a seemingly monopolistic market.
A cross section of travellers, who spoke with our correspondent at Lagos airport, expressed readiness to patronize any Nigerian brand that is of international standard.
One of them Adewale Bernard, said he believes aviation is the same everywhere adding that once there is assurance of safety, he can fly to any country with any Nigerian airline.
“We’ve read a lot about Air Peace, at least I know some people that have flown it on the domestic side, coming to the international routes will be great because we are only left with what the European and Asia airlines have to offer us, I am someone who doesn’t discriminate because my little knowledge about aviation tells me there is nothing hidden, once we know we are dealing a safe a airline, why not patronize our own first”, he said.
Another traveller, a frequent traveller on the United States of America route, simply identified as Bola, said, ‘The only direct choice is Delta Airline, even if you are not bound for Delta base, but with more options, one can plan with it but safety and sustenance are key, it should not be ‘one leg in one leg out because time and money are precious, there should be value for money and travellers should not be taken for granted and treated shabbily ‘.
Another person, who does not want his name in print, lamented the exorbitant fare on the European routes, saying only competition can break jinx.
He is of the opinion that if Air Peace has all it takes to operate international flights and can compete favourably on routes he said are ‘saturated with foreign big carriers’, Nigerians will surely be happier.
The airline which started domestic operations four years ago, gradually expanded its networks to West African routes such as Accra, Abidjan, Banjul, Freetown, Dakar and now launching foray into international routes.
On Wednesday, Air Peace pushed Nigeria’s aviation profile a notch higher with the delivery of its third Boeing 777 aircraft.
The airline took delivery of its first Boeing 777 aircraft in February 2018, making history as the first Nigerian carrier to acquire and register the type of aircraft in the country.
The aircraft marked 5N-BVE and named ‘Ifechukwu’ was soon followed with the delivery of a second Boeing 777 marked 5N-BUU and named “Ojochide” six months after in August 2018.
The airline’s latest bird of steel touched down at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at about 3:20pm on Wednesday and honoured with a spectacular water salute staged by men of the Fire Service Department of the Federal Airports of Authority of Nigeria.
Air Peace said the latest aircraft in its fleet was a big boost for its plans to soon start long-haul flight operations to Sharjah, Dubai, London, Houston, Guangzhou-China, Mumbai and Johannesburg.
Addressing reporters shortly after the aircraft marked 5N-BWI and named “Anuli Peggy Onyema” landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, Air Peace Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Allen Onyema said the airline had proved beyond doubt that it was the face of the bright future of Nigeria in the global aviation industry.
He dismissed claims that Air Peace was merely acquiring and parking wide-body aircraft at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, saying the airline was strategically increasing the number of aircraft to be deployed for its long-haul operations to ensure quick and efficient recovery when any of the aircraft was out of service.
Onyema insisted that the airline had earned the respect of financial organisations and other critical stakeholders in the global aviation industry, assuring that the entry of the new aircraft would create more jobs for Nigerians and others.
“I don’t think Air Peace is parking aircraft for fun. We brought in these aircraft to use them. We want to do this country very proud. We want to make every Nigerian proud of their own. Both the government and people of Nigeria have been complaining that there has never been any successful Nigerian airline. This is one airline out of Africa trying to do something different. All we need at this point in time is the support of everyone – both the government and people of Nigeria.
“I set up Air Peace in order to create jobs in a country with so much potential yet nothing to show for it. I and my wife just created this to give back to society. And that is very evident in the way we are running Air Peace. This particular aircraft will create at least another 1,500 jobs. And I want people to look at the potential, the number of families…Every Nigerian who is working takes care of about another 12 Nigerians. So, if I am going to employ 1,500 Nigerians because of the entry of this aircraft, it means this aircraft will be feeding 1,500 multiplied by 12 people daily. This airline is the biggest, not only in Nigeria, but the entire West Africa. This airline is respected worldwide.
“In Air Peace, you have over 3,000 direct workers. We’ve created about 9,000 ancillary jobs in just four years of our operations. All we need is the continued support of the press, the government and the people of Nigeria. A lot of people are saying Nigerian airlines are poor, they are indebted, they don’t have integrity. Air Peace has integrity. All the banks in Nigeria want to work with Air Peace because of our integrity. All the banks outside Nigeria are looking towards Air Peace. They see Air Peace as an emerging force out of Africa and everybody wants to support it”, he said.
Air Peace, Onyema added, would continue to sustain its high safety standards, deepen air connectivity and create massive direct and indirect job opportunities in all its areas of operation.