NIGERIAN domestic airline Air Peace has commenced international operations to South Africa with the company’s inaugural flight between Lagos and Johannesburg taking place yesterday morning.
Highly praised for its role during the coronavirus pandemic, Air Peace was instrumental in evacuating Nigerians around the world back home. Following its sterling work during the period and its capacity to ply international routes, Air Peace has been touted as a future Nigerian national carriers.
With the ongoing easing of the lockdown, Air Peace has stepped up its operations across Africa and the flight to Johannesburg is the latest feather in its cap. Delighted with the latest development, Air Peace chairman, Allen Onyema, said that all Nigerian airlines require to break even is an enabling environment.
Mr Onyema said: “The era of saying that Nigerian airlines are pushovers is gone forever. All we need is the enabling environment to perform and we will, beyond your expectations.
“I feel very happy that Air Peace is trying to afford the Nigerian flying public direct flights to Johannesburg and back to Nigeria. We promised Nigerians six years ago when we started Air Peace that we will connect this country with other nations of the world and gradually, we are getting there.”
Toyin Olajide, Air Peace’s chief operating officer, said the operations on the route would begin with two flights per week. She added that the flights would deepen the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa and strengthen the implementation of the bilateral agreement between both countries.
Ms Olajide said: “We are starting with two frequencies in a week. We are doing one on Thursday and another on Sunday but the intention is to increase to daily flights.
“Due to the current situation in the market, it is better to take it one step at a time. Then as the market increases, we will continue to increase our flights.”
She added that Nigerian airlines had complained of inaccessibility to foreign exchange as well as lack of adequate bailout hampering the sector’s growth. With the coronavirus crisis, these problems have exacerbated as passenger volumes are down significantly and the sector is facing a severe cash crunch.