More Calls For Air Peace To Be Designated A Flag Carrier As Airline Increases Routes

More Calls For Air Peace To Be Designated A Flag Carrier As Airline Increases Routes

5 months ago
3 mins read

As Air Peace, the largest carrier in Sub-Saharan Africa, continues to grow its fleet size and expand routes both locally and internationally, more calls have been made for it to be designated a national flag carrier.

The airline which provides passenger and charter services has in less than 10 years, made giant strides in the aviation industry, increasing its fleet size to 40. With the launch of its first international flight from Nigeria to Ghana in 2017, the airline has expanded and currently operates 21 domestic routes, nine regional and six international destinations while also eyeing to begin operations in London.

The airline launched scheduled flights to Abidjan in Ivory Coast on January 22 and  Conotonou on January 27 to boost regional connectivity.

Since 2018, the airline has according to reports, had the largest market share in the domestic airline market in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Air Peace Launches Abidjan Route, Commits To Easing Africa’s Travel Burden

Air Peace last year announced that it had placed a firm order for five E175 narrow-body aircraft from Brazilian manufacturer, Embraer, worth $288.3 million to be delivered this year and another five coming much later.

In an exclusive interview with Prime Business Africa, former commandant of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, Group Captain John Ojikutu, made a case for Air Peace and some other local airlines to be made flag carriers.

Captain Ojikutu said it is better to designate some local airlines and support them to be the nation’s pride than tinkering with floating a national carrier that would crumble like the defunct Nigerian Airways due to mismanagement.

He said: “Designate two flag carriers, Arik and Aero one. Air Peace one. Arik and Aero to be regional and continental; Air Peace to be intercontinental. Your flag carrier is as good as your national carrier. All these foreign airlines that are coming in here, like the British Airways, are all flag carriers, and we treat them the way we treat a national carrier,” Ojikutu stated.

More Calls For Air Peace To Be Designated A Flag Carrier As Airline Increases Routes
Air Peace’s inaugural flight to Cotonou, Benin Republic on January 27C photo credit: Air Peace X handle

What is a flag Carrier?

According to experts, a flag carrier in aviation is an airline being locally registered in a given sovereign state, that enjoys preferential rights or privileges accorded by the government for international operations. In other words, It is any international airline with a strong presence in the home country and conspicuously represents its home country internationally, regardless of whether it is government or privately owned.

Recently, Air Peace was also on the news regarding its moves to start flight operations to London.  Last week Friday, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development reportedly met with UK officials in the Transport Department to address the issue of establishing direct flights from Lagos to London.

A statement released a day after said the meeting also included talks with the management of NORSE Atlantic Airways, headed by its CEO, Ben Boiling on a proposed partnership with Air Peace. NORSE Atlantic Airways is a prominent carrier in the UK and other parts of Europe.

Air Peace has since been permitted to fly into the UK but has been having trouble getting time slots at the Gatwick Airport in London.

The statement said Boiling assured Keyamo that NORSE Atlantic Airways was ready to start the partnership with Air Peace the moment the final authorisation was granted to the airline for the commencement of direct flights into Gatwick Airport in London from Lagos, Nigeria.

“Since securing its authorization to fly into the UK, after satisfying all the requirements, the issue of slot allocation at Gatwick Airport has been the major obstacle preventing the airline from commencing the direct flight into London,” part of the statement read.

It added that the Transport Department informed Air Peace at the meeting that the UK government has no authority over the allocation of slots needed and promised to raise the concern of the Federal Government of Nigeria with the relevant authorities on the issues presented on behalf of Air Peace for quick resolution so it can begin flying to London.

Reacting to that, Captain Ojikutu demanded that Air Peace be allowed to fly to Heathrow rather than Gatwick, pointing out that doing so would put Nigeria in direct competition with British Airways on the BASA (Bilateral Air Services Agreement) Routes.

He said British Airways should be limited to Lagos or Abuja and not both, asserting that such a measure would enable Nigeria to partake significantly in the forex earnings. “Designate Air Peace as a National Flag Carrier first with the right to fly to Heathrow and not to Gatwick. That brings us into competition with the BA on the BASA Routes. Limit BA to Lagos or Abuja and not again to Lagos and Abuja.

“That makes it possible for us to partake in the forex earnings from the commercial aviation services and reduces the quantity of forex repatriation from Nigeria to the UK at least. Begin the solution of repatriation from the UK and UEA where we have more than one airline operating from those routes,” Ojikuku stated.

Similarly, Rights activist, Deji Adeyanju had in July last year, called on President Bola Tinubu to disengage Ethiopia Airlines from operating the proposed Nigeria Air as a national carrier. He urged the president to engage local airlines like Air Peace and others as the nation’s national flag carrier.

In an open letter dated July 7, and addressed to Tinubu, Adeyanju argued that engaging Air Peace for that would bring about economic progress to Nigeria.


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