Nigeria’s Aviation, Trade Ministers Hail Air Peace as Inaugural Lagos-London Flight Lands in Gatwick

Nigerians have commended Air Peace for its successful inaugural flight from Lagos to London on Saturday, March 30, 2024, with 260 passengers marking the resumption of flights by an indigenous carrier to one of the most lucrative routes from the country since 2019.

The airline, which operated a 274-seat capacity Boeing 777 for the maiden flight, held a brief ceremony at the Muhammed International Airport (New Terminal) to celebrate the occasion.

Some of the dignitaries present at the occasion include the Minister of aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, acting Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Chris Najomo, the Chairman and CEO of United Nigeria Airlines, Professor Obiora Okonkwo, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), former Director General of NCAA, Board Member of Air Peace, Benedict Adeyileka and many others.

Many of the passengers on the Air Peace flight to London said the flight was long awaited and it signaled a new dawn in the travel industry in Nigeria, adding that Air Peace is a Nigerian project and Nigerians should be commended for making this possible.

“It’s a new dawn for travellers. We are tired of exploitative fares charged by foreign carriers. Air Peace is changing the narrative to air travel with this maiden flight. 

“We see that fares are gradually reducing since Air Peace announced flight to London. This is good for air travel and Nigeria,” Tony Ike, a passenger on the flight said.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Keyamo who was obviously elated by the result of the hard work and commitment he and others in government had made to pave way for the airline to begin operations to London, promised that the Federal Government would continue to protect the airline and other Nigerian carriers that might want to operate international service.

He said the commencement of direct Lagos-London route by Air Peace would ease the pressure on naira, while the demand for foreign exchange by Nigerians and foreign airlines would reduce.

Keyamo explained that the start of the route by the airline had also compelled some mega carriers on the Lagos-London route to drop fares and assured of government support.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite described the feat by Air Peace as the convergence of innovation, determination, and the unwavering commitment to excellence.

“Nigeria has needed a local airline flying directly to the UK for a number of years. Air Peace proudly wears the badge of. Made in Nigeria. It is a symbol of our collective effort to showcase our capabilities to the world. From the skilled hands that maintain the aircraft to the warm smiles of the cabin crew, every aspect of Air Peace reflects the spirit of our nation.

“Let us reflect on the economic impact of this flight. Air Peace’s presence in London is not merely about arrivals and departures; it is about trade, investment, and collaboration. By choosing Air Peace, you choose to invest in Nigeria. You choose to empower local businesses, create jobs, and strengthen our economy. In December 2023, the UK exported £185 million to Nigeria and imported £154 million, resulting in a negative trade balance of £30.8 million. This is a trend we wish to change in Nigeria’s favour and an additional trade route is a major step in the right direction,” she said.

She said the choice of Nigerians to fly with Air Peace is a vote of confidence, adding that the airline has a commendable safety record, holding a 7 out of 7 safety rating according to Airline Ratings and has successfully undergone the International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification four times, signifying its commitment to rigorous safety standards.

“So I entreat all potential passengers to trust them to carry you safely across continents, and remember that you are part of a movement—a movement that encourages Nigerians to patronize their own. Let us be ambassadors in the skies, sharing stories of our rich heritage, our vibrant culture, and the warmth that defines us,” Uzoka-Anite added. 

Similarly, Capt. Chris Najomo, the Ag. Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCCA), insisted that for indigenous airlines to succeed on any international routes, it was necessary for the government to adopt the Fly Nigeria Act for public officials.

Also, he promised that the apex regulatory body would support Air Peace and other indigenous airlines to succeed on international routes unlike in the past.