Air Peace has commenced daily flights from Lagos to Ilorin and Ilorin to Abuja as part of its expansion drive and realisation of its goal to connect major cities in Nigeria.
Media Executive Officer of the airline, Mr Stanley Olisa, explained in a statement on Thursday that the inaugural P47110 flight from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, landed at the Ilorin International Airport by 11:00 a.m amidst excitement from stakeholders including Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq represented by his Deputy, Chief Kayode Alabi.
Olisa said that Alhaji Ota Aliyu Uthman, National President of the Ilorin Emirates Descendants Progressive Union, representing Ilorin indigenes at home and in the Diaspora, was on ground to welcome the flight.
The Safety Manager of the Airline, Capt. Godfrey Ogbogu, who represented the Chairman of the airline, Mr Allen Onyema, said that the commencement of the flights signified provision of more network options and connectivity for the people in the Middle Belt region.
Ogbogu also described the daily flights into Ilorin as “a momentous feat”, saying it would boost the economy of the state and generate employment.
He said: “If you have been keeping tabs on the trajectory of Air Peace, you will have noticed our strategic and consistent route network expansion.
“This is driven by our unwavering resolve to plug the gaps in Nigeria’s air travel and, more importantly, give the Nigerian flying public multiple network options.
“We are famed for our ‘no-city-level-behind’ initiative. The goal, really, is to interconnect various cities in Nigeria and beyond to tremendously impact the country’s economic indices.
“This explains why we have also extended our wings to Ilorin.
“With the support of the state government under the visionary leadership of His Excellency, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, whom we are profusely grateful to, Air Peace is promising the people of Ilorin and its environs seamless and affordable air travel.”
According to him, Air Peace a socially-sensitive and responsive airline and has constantly reviewed its route network vis-à-vis the public needs while factoring strategic ways of expanding it to provide enormous value to Nigerians.
“That is precisely what today’s inaugural flight into Ilorin represents.
“As we commence daily flights into Ilorin today, we are promising that this new route will be optimally serviced and Nigerians, especially Ilorin residents, will vastly benefit from it.
“We also pledge to work concertedly with all the stakeholders in the state, aviation regulator, airport administrator and, of course, the state government, to ensure we maximise the gains of air travel and sustain the impact.”
He solicited continued support and cooperation of all stakeholders for the airline to keep soaring high.
In his remarks read by his deputy, the governor hailed the airline for taking the decision.
He said that the Air Peace flights would support the state’s drive toward industrialisation.
The governor said that the inaugural flight testified to how the state had evolved as a new investment destination in Nigeria.
He promised that the state government would provide the requisite support and encouragement for the airline to succeed on Ilorin route.
The Vice-President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies, South-West Zone, Comrade Ezekiel Afolabi, commended Air Peace for connecting Ilorin.
He urged the airline to replicate same in other states in South West.
Meanwhile, Mr Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace, says the airline would take delivery of 13 new Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, out of the 30 expected from Brazil’s Embraer Aircraft Manufacturing Company, by the end of 2022.
Onyema made the disclosure on Thursday, at an event marking the delivery of the third E195-E2 new aircraft in Abuja.
The aircraft, which landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, at about 3:15 p.m, was received by government officials, top corporate executives, members of the diplomatic corps and high-profiled aviation stakeholders.
He disclosed that additional two aircraft would join its fleet by August, which eight others would be delivered before the end of the year.
The chairman said that it would activate payment for additional 10 aircraft by the beginning of 2023, which would bring the total to 23 aircraft.
“In 2019, we announced the acquisition of 30 Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, which included 13 firm orders and 17 purchase right orders from the Embraer Aircraft company.
“The new additions would be deployed to new routes on local, regional and international destinations,” he said.
The acquisition of the 30 new planes, when fully operational, would further create additional 17, 000 jobs for technical personnel in the country, up from the present 10,000-strong workforce.
“By next year, we hope to receive all the 13 planes we made firm orders for and by the end of 2023, we intend to activate payment for another 10 of the aircraft brand, which will bring the total to 23.
“We have new routes that we want to deploy the aircraft to. We have new routes that we have just opened and more routes will still be explored in the coming months.
“We are opening Gombe very soon and our intention is to open up this country. We will also connect the North East with the North West and other routes. Owerri-Kaduna and other routes will also be connected.
“These aircraft would hit the West Coast and the African region, as the airline will be strengthened further with the inclusion of other routes like Douala (Cameroon), Congo Kinshasa, Niamey (Niger), Dakar (Senegal), as well as Freetown and Liberia.
“We have been designated to operate to so many destinations by the government. We have over 20 destinations, which is very commendable,” Onyema added.
Similarly, Onyema said that the airline was planning to commence the Lagos-London route, with the assistance of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which was working on fast-tracking the process.
Onyema specifically lauded Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, for driving deep changes in the sector, since his appointment about six years ago.
In his remarks, Sirika, who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Hassan Musa, described the acquisition of the aircraft by Air Peace as a right step in the right direction.
Sirika said the bold step taken by the airline was in alignment with the Federal Government’s road map for the aviation sector.
He stressed that the use of new airplanes by Nigerian carriers would change the dynamics in airlines’ profitability and sustainability, by driving down maintenance and fueling cost.
The Director General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, described the arrival of the new aircraft as a milestone, saying that recent developments in Nigeria’s air transport industry constituted a paradigm shift.
He commended Onyema, saying that the beauty of the delivery was not just that the aircraft is new but that the airline chose the right aircraft suitable for the market.
“Today is another milestone and a paradigm shift and this is something that I have not seen since my days at the Nigerian Airways, when they were purchasing the right aircraft for the right routes.
“Air Peace is not only buying aircraft, but buying the right size aircraft for the Nigerian market.
“The Embraer aircraft is the right aircraft, it breaks even with low passenger figures, your maintenance cost is low, your operational cost is also low.
“Another factor is that the new aircraft is absolutely great for the environment, because it does less pollution. I am really proud that I am DG when this paradigm shift is happening.
“We are all here to work together to grow the industry and we have to give kudos to the entrepreneur, because without such people, all this will not be possible, without the entrepreneur the whole system is unraveled, we need entrepreneurs like Onyema” Nuhu said.
Also, Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, expressed delight at the changes Air Peace had brought into the sector in recent years.
She promised that the bank would continue to collaborate with the airline in its bid to enhance safety and bring changes to the sector.