Nigeria major carrier, Air Peace Today, launched direct flight operation from Lagos to Johannesburg, South Africa.
with the aim of establishing a threshold on the route and reestablish a direct connection amid the COVID-19 pandemic and other extraneous forces.
The flight which was operated a Boeing 777 is the inaugural flight into South Africa and the first official scheduled flight having flown into South Africa twice before, first in 2019 to evacuate Nigerians caught by the xenophobia unrest and again to evacuate same during the height of the COVID-19.
The flight into South Africa, according to airline officials has opened up possibilities for intra-continental businesses, trade as well as create improve bi-lateral relations between both countries.
Chairman of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema, who spoke just before the flight took off, explained that with the launch of the second international route, it shows Nigerian airlines are no mere pushovers and can hold their own given the right clime.
He expressed joy at the connection of the two economies stating that it reduces the travel time between both countries and encourages fluid bi-lateral relationships.
Onyema however said the airline was under no delusion that it was alone on the route but that it would do its best and ensure it sustains the routes and builds on it.
He said, “I feel great for Nigerians. I feel happy because Air Peace us trying to afford the flying public direct flight to Johannesburg and back to Nigeria instead of going round the world, going round Africa before flying to South Africa. Now in less than six hours we will be there. So it is something that we look forward to doing at greater heights.
“We promised Nigerians six years ago when we started Air Peace that we are not only going to connect cities in Nigeria and communities in. Oversaw but also connect this country with other nations of the world. Gradually we are getting there.
“We don’t want to kid ourselves that we are the only ones on the route now, some other people also will want to come there so for us to sustain the tempo of whatever we are doing, we have to be pragmatic, we have to be strategic too in our planning and like I said, we have been following our business plan since 2014 meticulously. ”
Onyema added that: “Everything we said we’d do in 2014, we have been able to achieve them and we believe we can do more with articulate planning. So the era of saying Nigerian airlines are pushovers is gone and gone forever. All we need is the enabling environment to perform and I bet you we would perform more than your expectations.
“The fact that Air Peace is going into South Africa will boost economic relations, progress between both countries and it’s going to improve our no-lateral relations, it is something good and no longer one sided.”
Also speaking during the inaugural flight, Air Peace’s Chief Operating Officer, Oluwatosin Olajide said the airline’s expansion into Johannesburg South Africa will create options for passengers and also create opportunities for the people of South Africa.
Olajide who spoke in a brief ceremony before the aircraft was boarded credited the airline for bridging the gap between both countries at this crucial time.
She described the inaugural flight into Johannesburg, South Africa a monumental one being the second international route the airline is embarking on.
According to her, it was so because given the present circumstances globally, the airline is still able to expand and through the expansion not just deepen ties between Nigeria and South Africa but create jobs.
She said,” It is historic and momentous that Air Peace has added South Africa as a second international route to its destination. The expansion is commendable especially during this time and the route is meant to be sustained and Air Peace will sustain it.
“The expansion into Johannesburg, South Africa will deepen the bi-lateral relationship further between Nigeria and South Africa. Passengers can now have options between both countries and this will demonstrate love, create jobs opportunities for South Africans too.”
” We have chosen to fly twice weekly to Johannesburg. This is a carefully thought out strategy with the timing which will be good for passengers and with time, it would graduate into a daily operation.”