Indigenous flag carrier, Air Peace, has expressed readiness to open the West Coast and London operations. The airline said the new routes were motivated by the arrival of the third brand new Embraer 195-E2 jet into its fleet.
Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said the feat would not have been possible without President Muhammadu Buhari’s support for the industry and Hadi Sirika’s push for local operators to buy new aeroplanes.
Onyema noted that the Federal Government had allotted about 26 destinations to Air Peace, some of which will become operational with the arrival of more new equipment.
He added that Air Peace will soon be connecting Duala, Senegal, Congo and the West Coast.
“We are still processing documents for the London route. Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) will help us push further. We have also applied for China and India too. We have already had seven flights to China and 22 to India already. All of these are markets waiting for Air Peace,” Onyema said.
The medium-range equipment is the third of 13 expected from Embraer in Brazil, with another 17 likely to follow the firm order.
The Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, had described the arrival of the brand new aircraft as a milestone and a paradigm shift for the industry.
Nuhu commended Air Peace chairman not just for investing in a new aircraft, but picking the right type for the market.
“The Embraer aircraft is the right aircraft; it breaks even with low passenger figures. Your maintenance and operational costs are low.
“Another factor is that the new aircraft is absolutely great for the environment; it does less noise and 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. Without such people, all this will not be possible. We need entrepreneurs like Onyema,” Nuhu said.
Air Peace airline in April 2019 placed a record order for 13 brand new Embraer 195-E2 planes. The order comprises purchase rights for another 17 E195-E2 jets. The first and second arrived in January and March, respectively.
About eight of the 13 are expected to arrive this year, after which Air Peace will place additional firm orders for 10 in 2022, bringing the total to 23 new aircraft from Embraer.
Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, said when the airline disclosed its plans to buy 13 brand new aircraft from Embraer, she thought it was a joke, knowing how much these aircraft could cost, but the bank worked with the airline to actualise that objective.
Onyeali-Ikpe said since Air Peace started doing business with the bank seven years ago, the airline has exhibited high fiscal discipline and prudence that has prompted the bank to go with the domestic carrier as far as it wants to go.
She assured that the bank would continue to collaborate with the airline and would work with it all the way, adding that the bank was very happy with the airline’s successes.
“It is a major success for a local player to have the level of financial discipline that this company has. So I commend you, and we will work with you all the way to any level that you want,” she said.