ISRAEL has evacuated 274 of its citizens from Nigeria aboard an Air Peace chattered flight as the ongoing emigration by expatriates continues in response to the global pandemic coronavirus.
Last week, France airlifted all of its nationals out of Nigeria after an Air-France KLM aircraft landed at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, having received special permission from the aviation ministry. Yesterday, Israel followed suit airlifting its citizens out of the country via both the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
A Boeing 777-300, the flight, left Lagos with 65 passengers and airlifted 209 others from Abuja, before heading to Tel-Aviv. Allen Onyema, the chairman of Air Peace, said the flight was historic, adding that it was the first time there would be a direct flight from Nigeria to Israel.
He added that it was hoped that both countries would have direct scheduled flights in the shortest time possible. In January, Mr Onyema announced that Air Peace had been given rights to fly to Israel but the plan is yet to become operational.
Mr Onyeama said: “It is a historic day for both Nigeria and Israel as history has been made today. In 60 years of diplomatic relations, no direct flight has been conducted between Nigeria and Israel up until today but this is the first time Nigeria and Israel will have direct air connectivity.”
“It is a historic day and it is going to portend greater things that will come, as both countries have a lot to gain by having direct flights. Nigeria is a land of huge potential, which Israel may be willing to tap into, while Nigeria will want to tap into science and technology, which Israel is known for.”
Commending the federal government for making the flight possible, Mr Onyema said it was difficult to get flight permits during critical periods of emergency from other countries but Nigeria did not waste a second to approve the flight to Tel Aviv. He added that the minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, approved the request the moment it was presented to him.
In addition, Mr Onyema said the Israeli government also gave its support to the move. Shimon Ben-Shoshan, the Israeli ambassador to Nigeria, said he was happy about the successful evacuation of his country’s citizens from Nigeria.