By Chinedu Eze
After many months of no direct flight between the lucrative Lagos-Johannesburg route, Nigeria’s biggest carrier, Air Peace, on Thursday commenced flights to South Africa’s major city, Johannesburg.
The flight which took off from Murtala Muhammed international Airport, Lagos in the early hours of Thursday had passengers, staff of Air Peace and journalists onboard a memorable inaugural flight that connects Africa’s biggest economies.
Since South African Airways suspended flight operations, Nigerians travelling to South Africa had to connect flights to about two or three countries to get to South Africa since there were no direct flights going to the destination.
Passengers had complained of how stressful connecting these flights was and this has reduced the number of travellers on one of the most lucrative routes in Africa.
Passengers who spoke to journalists said they were elated to have a Nigerian carrier doing a direct flight on the route.
Speaking during the commencement of the inaugural flight at Lagos airport, chief operating officer at AirPeace, Mrs. Toyin Olajide said the airline was most delighted to commence it’s second international flight from Lagos to Johannesburg.
Olajide said for AirPeace to commence another international flight at a time like this shows AirPeace is an airline to reckon with and it is here to stay.
South Africa’s state-owned airline had on September 30th suspended all its operations as it struggles to raise a bailout of more than 10 billion rands ($591 million).
One of the most frequently visited countries for Nigerians in Africa is South Africa, which targets Nigerians for her well-known tourism destinations.
The two countries have close social and financial relations. In 2012, the total bilateral trade between Nigeria and South Africa l grew to $ 3.6 billion. The Nigeria – South Africa Chamber of Commerce was created to encourage and facilitate bi-lateral trade relationships between Nigeria and South Africa. Its offices are in Lagos, Nigeria, and it has in its membership 315 companies currently trading in both Nigeria and South Africa.