Mr Ezenwa Nwaobiala, Minister (Consular), Consulate General of Nigeria, Johannesburg, says the launch of the foremost Nigerian airline, Air Peace, in South Africa, will deepen the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa.
Nwaobiala made the disclosure at Air Peace Inaugural Dinner in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Thursday evening, Dec. 17, 2020, to mark the commencement of Air Peace flights into South Africa.
He said that the venture will also strengthen the implementation of the bilateral agreement between both countries.
According to him, the consulate is pleased to welcome Air Peace commercial scheduled flights into South Africa, of which has long been anticipated.
“This will also provide lots of opportunities for both countries and also Nigerians here in South Africa.
“Air Peace has been proven over time to be an airline to be reckoned with. We are proud of their track records and humanity services to Nigeria,” he said.
The Consulate General commended the management of Air Peace for their support in evacuating Nigerians back home in 2019 as part of their contributions to national development and service to humanity.
In her remarks, Mrs Oluwatoyin Olajide, Chief Operating Officer, Air Peace, pledged to work harmoniously with all the stakeholders including the South African Civil Aviation Authority, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the airport administrators and, of course, the governments of both countries to ensure the new route is successfully serviced.
Olajide said that Air Peace is reputed for its no-city-left-behind mantra and this was something they had vigorously pursued to drive routes expansion.
According to her, the decision to extend to Johannesburg is consequent upon the airline’s vision to create affordable and safe air travel for Africans, with their signature hospitality, connecting various cities across Africa, thereby fostering unity and enhancing impactful economic relations.
“Our commitment to excellence and determination to reduce the air travel burden of Africans by employing dynamics that are peculiar to the African people, has proudly earned us the title of the biggest airline in West and Central Africa.
“It is this same excellence and determination that we’re bringing to South Africans.
“The airline has recorded a lot of milestones in less than a decade and now services sixteen domestic routes, five regional routes and two international destinations, including the United Arab Emirates, which we launched in July 2019.
“I am pleased to also inform you that we have other international routes in the offing, such as Houston-U.S., Mumbai-India, Guangzhou-China and London.
“As a socially responsive airline, we are constantly reviewing our route network in line with public needs while looking at ways of expanding the network to provide ample value to Nigerians,” she added.
Olajide said: “As we commence regular flights into Johannesburg, we are promising South Africans, Nigerians and other Africans that the new route will be well serviced.
“It is with intense excitement that I am here today to deliver this speech to commemorate the momentous launch of scheduled direct, nonstop flights from Lagos, Nigeria, to Johannesburg, South Africa, by Air Peace, West and Central Africa’s foremost airline.
“To me and indeed, the entire management of the airline, this is more than just the commencement of scheduled flights into Johannesburg. It is more.”
She said that it was a solidification of the economic and commercial ties between the two giant African countries.
“This is the exemplification and a reflection of a mutually beneficial relationship.
“It is also an implementation of Air Peace Bilateral Air Service Agreement in furtherance of the progress of Nigeria and South Africa and the promotion of unity between citizens of both nations,” she said.
Olajide recalled how Air Peace flew into South Africa on Sept. 11, 2019 and evacuated 503 Nigerians in two separate flights.
“Even though the circumstances were somewhat inauspicious, that particular incident heightened the airline’s desire to kick off scheduled flights into the country, and today marks the accomplishment of that ambition.
“Also, on June 26, 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria, we flew into South Africa to evacuate 167 Nigerians.
“So, you can say we are acquainted with the South African terrain.
“We saw an opportunity to connect both countries directly and we seized it.
“And we are glad this is happening as we believe both countries will benefit hugely from it in the areas of employment creation and promotion of tourism.
“Also, in facilitation of a seamless movement of people, which is a prerequisite for economic development, and other forms of value to be created along the chain,” Olajide said.
Mr Mohammed Danjuma, a Board Member of Air Peace, commended Nigerians in South Africa for the warm welcome given to Air Peace inaugural flight.
He promised that the routes would be adequately explored.
According to Danjuma, the direct flights from Nigeria to Johannesburg will reduce the stress of going round the world to get to South Africa.
“In, less than six hours, Air Peace will carry passengers to Johannesburg.”
He said that flights would also increase business opportunity and boost trade relationship between the two countries and other West Africa countries.
According to him, as Air Peace flags off its commercial scheduled flights to Johannesburg, other countries will also be opened for business.
“I am grateful for your acceptance and support over the years in seeing Air Peace grow from strength to strength,” Danjuma said.