Abdulmalik Ahmed, the Consol General of Nigeria to South Africa, has applauded Air Peace for taking advantage of the present oportunity on the Lagos- Johannesburg route to launch into the southern African nation and has called on other Nigerian corporates to emulate the airline.
The airline which started operations to South Africa on Thursday made a return trip to Nigeria with 207 passengers on its Boeing 777 aircraft.
At a press conference which took place on Friday in Johannesburg, Ahmed urged Nigerians to establish more businesses in South Africa, stating that an increase in Nigerian businesses in the country would help sooth frayed nerves and reduce xenophobic attacks.
He also called on Nigerian corporate organisations to follow the footsteps of Air peace “I will like to take this opportunity to call upon on Nigerian corporate entities to follow the lead of Air Peace and take advantage of the huge investment opportunities in South Africa.
“The death of Nigerian corporate entities here compared to a large number of South Africa entities in Nigeria does not reflect the spirit of industry of our people. An increase in corporate presence could be a weapon in the fight against xenophobia. We at the consulate are ever ready to facilitate the processes of your arrival.”
Speaking on the economic benefit of the flight, the Nigerian envoy noted that route launch will help improve foreign inflows and encourage investment.
He said, “Nigeria provides a favourable business environment and large market for a wide range of South Africa companies including MTN, Multichoice, Shoprite, Protea hotels and more. The Lagos- Johannesburg route was serviced by Air Arik and South African Airways but unfortunately, both airlines could not sustain operations on the routes. It is against this background that Air Peace is entering the market.”
On trade between Nigeria and South Africa Ahmed noted that Nigeria and South Africa have remained biggest partner over the years.
He revealed that Nigeria’s yearly exports to South Africa are an excess of $3.8bn and that South Africa similarly exported $4.8bn to Nigeria in 2018.
He said, “South Africa is Nigeria’s biggest trading partner in Africa. Though dominated by oil, Nigeria’s export to South Africa is an excess of $3.8bn annually. That represents about 6.3 per cent of the country’s total exports. Similarly, South Africa exported goods of about $4.9bn in 2018 to Nigeria.”
Also speaking, Chief Operating Officer, Airports Company, South Africa, Fundi Sithe commended Air Peace for flying into Oliver Tambo International Airport acknowledging that the number of passengers on the return trip showed that the route was much awaited.
She said, “Yesterday, we saw that the inaugural flight arrive at Oliver Tambo International Airport, December 17 on-time. It arrived with 85 passengers on board and departed later on with an estimated 207 passengers. That is quite significant because the difference tells us that there is a level of demand that has not been serviced.”
The airport manager hoped for more frequencies and a direct route to Durban or Capetown, soon.
Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Mrs Toyin Olajide noted that the airline would be expecting three aircraft to boost domestic and regional operations. She added that other international routes in the offing, such as Houston-USA, Mumbai-India, Guangzhou-China and London.
Customers who are looking to connect cities in Nigeria or other countries which the airline was operating in were advised to apply, as the airline pledged to carry passengers to their final destination at a promo price of R6,175.