As Air Peace Expands International Operations
On March 31, 2023 Nigeria’s major carrier, Air Peace will be adding a major destination, Mumbai, India to its international routes, making it the second long distance flight to Asia.
The first was China, which it started last year. With this development, the airline is already breaking the jinx, prodding though the odds and stoically charting its way to be an international carrier from Nigeria.
Air Peace, which started operations in 2014, was the first airline that started with seven aircraft after obtaining its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) unlike many others, which started two or three aircraft. But when the airline started, its name had a peculiar ring that didn’t dovetail with the rhythm of the industry, Air Peace. Some stakeholders said they laughed at the name then.
But eight years after it started operation, the airline, against some cynical predictions, has soldiered on, grabbing many firsts in many ways and now, it is a beacon of hope for Nigeria’s aviation industry. It employs over 5, 000 workforce as its fleet increased and its destinations also increased. It will continue to increase its workforce in the coming years as it is bringing in more aircraft and extending its wings to more destinations.
THISDAY spoke with the Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, who disclosed that everything is ready for the inaugural flight to Mumbai, India. The plan to fly to India started shortly before the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 when the Indian community realised that Nigerian flag carrier with long-haul fleet could be taking Indians directly to India instead of flying first to some airline hubs before getting home. That discussion culminated in the evacuation flights when Air Peace airlifted Indians from Nigeria to India. That was shortly after Air Peace evacuated Israelites to Israel during the lockdown.
The Air Peace Chairman told THISDAY that Air Peace would operate two flights a week to India and would increase the frequency over time. He said that the existing and planned international destinations of the airline include, South Africa, China, Jeddah, Medina; Tel-Aviv, Israel and there is discussion between Barbados and Air Peace for direct flight from Barbados to Nigeria.
Onyema also told THISDAY that Air Peace has expanded operation in the West and Central Africa, which include: Doula in Cameroon, Banjul in The Gambia, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Monrovia, Liberia and it has advanced its plans to fly to Togo, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and Kinshasa, Congo. The airline also expanded operations to Accra, Niamey and Dakar, Senegal.
The network in West and Central Africa is in line with the objectives of the Single Africa Air Transport Market (SAATM), which wants to see that every part of the continent is connected in order to boost intra continental connectivity for business. Air Peace with these West Coast designations will seriously rival Asky, a pan-African airline operating in West and Central Africa based in Lome, Togo, and connects over 25 destinations in 20 countries on the African continent. Air Peace domestic destinations in Nigeria are about 24.
The airline in its fleet, has three Boeing B777, it also has 12 Boeing B737, five brand new Embraer E192-E2 and some Embraer 145 aircraft. It has a total of 38 aircraft currently in the fleet. It is also expecting 15 Boeing B737 MAX, inclduing seven Boeing B737 MAX 8 and eight Boeing B737 MAX 10. In addition to that, the airline is also expecting the delivery of eight E195-E2 aircraft, which will complete the brand new Embraer aircraft to 15 in the fleet. The airline is also negotiating with the Boeing Company for two Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
“We are deploying our Boeing B737 MAX 10 to European destinations. We have applied to operate to London and to secure our Third Country Operators Permit (TCO),” the Chairman said.
With brand new Embraer E195-E2 and the Boeing 737 MAX that would be delivered soon, it is expected that the Nigerian carrier would not have problem meeting the EU conditions, which border on safety.
In her speech during Air Peace inaugural flight to China last year, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Air Peace, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Olajide said: “When we set out for the Air Peace trajectory in 2014, we envisaged an airline that would predominantly do two things: create massive employment for Nigerians and reduce the burden of air travel for Nigerians, and by extension, Africans, through the provision of affordable and peaceful connectivity across cities and continents.
“Now, we can confidently assert that Air Peace has kept to this vision of providing seamless connections and expanding existing network to accommodate the evolving air travel needs of the flying public. Today, we’re officially adding the continent of Asia to our network of continents, with the commencement of initial one-weekly flight to Guangzhou-China.”
According to her, “If you have been following the growth of Air Peace, you will be familiar with the fact that the Chinese airspace is not new to us, as we’ve successfully operated several evacuation/special flights to the country at different times in the past, especially in 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown. So, we’re going into China, not as newcomers, but as an airline that is technically and operationally acclimatised with the Chinese terrain.”
It is the same with the Indian airspace, as the airline has been operating to India before the scheduled flight service.
There are also plan of the airline to operate to the Caribbean. In fact, simpleflying.com, an industry online medium, recently reported that there were negotiations between Barbados, the Africa Export-Import Bank, and air Peace for the commencement of a direct route between Barbados and Nigeria as soon as the second half of the this year.
The medium explained that Barbados’ Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador, David Comissiong, disclosed that negotiations between the Africa Export-Import Bank and Nigeria’s Air Peace were going well. If successful, the island could see the commencement of the direct route to Africa.
“Hopefully, before the middle of the year, we are going to have that direct airline license, not between Ghana and Barbados, but it’s likely to be between Lagos, Nigeria, and Barbados twice a week. So once we can get on that plane at Grantley Adams International Airport and fly across the Atlantic to Lagos, that is just a short journey from Lagos to Accra, Ghana,” Comissiong assured.