By Chinedu Eze
There are indications that Nigeria’s biggest airline, Air Peace may begin direct flights to India from Lagos.
This was made known by the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Abhay Thakur, who disclosed that the domestic carrier had been approved by the federal government to operate direct flights to India under the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) signed with the Asian nation in January.
Thakur, said Air Peace was chosen when the BASA was signed between the two countries, aimed at liberalising commercial services between Nigeria and India. Both countries have been engaged in bilateral trade since the 1960s.
In the principle of reciprocity two airlines may be designated, each from one country and the two under the commercial agreement would endorse the number of frequencies the airlines would operate to one another’s country.
BASA agreements allow the designated airlines of the two contracting countries to operate commercial flights that cover the transport of passengers and cargoes between the countries.
The High Commissioner said, “We had the bilateral air services agreement that was signed in January, we already have the approvals accorded to Air Peace by the government of Nigeria and the approvals by the government of India are currently in the process and we hope we can start direct flights sooner than later.
“We have the approval that has been accorded to Air Peace for two flights to Mumbai every week and we hope to move forward on this front hopefully in 2019 itself. This is one of the targets we are working towards and subject to all necessary approvals, we should be able to move forward on this front.”
He said India was open to any arrangement, but was eager to see direct flight between the two countries.
“We are open to any kind of arrangement; we will be open to all possibilities,” he said.
The envoy stressed that the agreement was coming at a time when India was set to further uplift and take forward its cooperation with Africa and Nigeria in particular.
“I would say we are already late, direct flights are overdue. India is the second largest country in the world and Nigeria is the largest economy and largest country in Africa. There is no reason why our people should not be traveling, meeting more frequently,” the envoy said.
India is said to be one of Nigeria’s largest trading partners, with bilateral trade between both countries at nearly $12 billion and Indian companies investing in projects worth $10 billion.
THISDAY learnt that Air Peace is ready for the direct flight to India, noting that as businesses increase between the two countries there is the need for a direct flight, which would benefit both nations in various ways.