Following dismal outing of local carriers on the international routes, Air Peace Airlines is set to foray into the long-haul operations, and on its wings are high expectations from stakeholders.
The airlines, besides flying the Nigerian flag, also avails competitive options for Nigerian travellers.
Air Peace will operate into six routes: Dubai and Sharjah to start with, and then followed by London, Houston, Guangzhou-China, Mumbai, and Johannesburg, using four Boeing 777 aircraft type.
Air Peace, the leading carrier in terms of capacity and passenger traffic, is making bold entry into the routes where Virgin Nigeria, Arik Air, and Med-View Airlines Plc, fell out of favour, partly due to capacity issues or aviation politics of their hosts.
Recall that Air Peace, in January completed the mandatory demonstration flights, travelling through Sharjah, South Africa, Dakar, Kano, Port Harcourt and Free Town, with officials of the airline and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) onboard.
As at the last check, The Guardian confirmed that all was set for the final approval, except for two grey areas that were identified at a meeting between the airline and NCAA officials, a fortnight ago.
Corporate Communications Manager of the airlines, Chris Iwarah, said the operation was 95 per cent set, even as the airline was good to go, once NCAA gives the final approval.
Iwarah said expectations from Nigerian carriers are high, coming from both Nigerians and global aviation community.
“So, it is not about Air Peace, but about Nigeria. The regulatory authorities are aware of that and pushing to ensure that things are properly done.”
“Already we have the approval to go to Sharjah and Dubai; they are waiting for us. So, very soon, we would be there.”
Iwarah added that contrary to reports, Air Peace has not altered its plan to commence Sharjah and Dubai services from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, because the airport is strategic to the launch for its international flight operations.
“As we have variously promised, we will eventually expand our international operations to cover other cities and regions of Nigeria and even the West Coast of Africa. The goal ultimately is to leverage our broad domestic and regional route network in offering the flying public a reliable alternative. This will be clearer as our long-haul route network unfurls,” he said.
Med-View Airlines Plc, early 2018, suspended its Lagos-London and Lagos-Dubai operations. The Dubai operations had barely operated for three months, before effects of a bad leasing deal began to tell. Its recent acquisition of B777-200ER aircraft has not helped the airline’s fortunes.
Similarly, Arik Air “temporarily” suspended the international routes – London, New York and Johannesburg – following its internal crisis that led to its takeover by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) about two years ago. The airline has not return till date.