The Federal Government has lauded Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, for expanding its flight operations to Sharjah-Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mr. Sabiu Zakari, Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transportation (Aviation), gave the commendation on Friday at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, to flag off the inaugural flight of Air Peace to Dubai.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) aviation correspondent reports that the airline’s first long-haul flight has been scheduled to depart at 8.00 p.m. to arrive Dubai at 5.00 a.m. on Saturday.
Zakari, represented by Mr. Hassan Musa, Director of Air Transport Management, said the government would continue to support Nigerian airlines for them to sustain their operations.
“We are proud of you. The government on its own will continue to assist domestic airlines.
“We have gotten waivers on aircraft spares and also opened a special foreign exchange window for them which shows the commitment of government to our carriers.”
According to Musa, the government is ready to approve new international routes for domestic airlines and assist them in liaising with foreign governments through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Chairman of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Capt. Nogie Meggisson, said that Air Peace had made a bold move with the expanding of its services to the UAE.
“As we move to the next level, I want to call on Air Peace to keep the flag flying and represent us as a flag carrier that we have been clamouring for.
“The Federal Government should also protect Air Peace from international aero-politics for them to be able to sustain the route,” Meggisson said.
The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, thanked Nigerians for their patronage, which he said, had made the company the largest airline in West Africa within four years of operations.
Onyema noted that the entry of the airline into long-haul services would end the exploitation and short-changing of Nigerians by foreign airlines.
“A six-hour flight from Lagos to Europe costs more than an 11-hour trip from Johannesburg to the same destination.
“So, we want to put an end to the exploitation of our people. We want Nigerians to know that patronising us instead of our competitors will put back their money into the country’s economy.
“We are optimistic that even if our competitors begin to drop their fares that Nigerians will be wise to stick with us,” Onyema said.
NAN reports that Air Peace has scheduled to operate flights on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays to Dubai while Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays would be for flights back to Lagos.
The airline is currently the only Nigerian carrier operating on the lucrative Lagos-Dubai route, following the suspension of flight services on the route by Medview Airlines in March 2018.