Air Peace operations on London route will reduce pressure on naira – Keyamo

*Air Peace vice chairman, Mrs Alice Onyema (5th left), chairman, Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, Chairman (6th left), minister of aviation and aerospace development, Mr Festus Keyamo, (9th left) flanked by crew members during Air Peace Lagos-London inaugural flight ceremony held at the New Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos on Friday.

The minister of aviation and aerospace development, Mr Keyamo said the start of direct scheduled operations on the London route by Air Peace would reduce pressure on the naira as well as foreign exchange demand by Nigerians and foreign airlines.

Spokesman for the airline, Mr Stanley Olisa, said in a statement on Saturday that the minister made the declaration at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos during the airline’s inaugural Lagos-London flight.

The minister, according to the statement, promised that the federal government would continue to protect the airline and other Nigerian carriers that might want to operate international service.

Keyamo further remarked that the commencement of direct Lagos-London flight had forced some mega carriers on that route to drop fares.

Also speaking, the minister of industry, trade and investment, Ms Doris Uzoka-Anite said the airline’s feat “is the convergence of innovation, determination, and the unwavering commitment to excellence.”

She said Air Peace’s presence in London is not merely about arrivals and departures “it is about trade, investment, and collaboration.”

“Let us reflect on the economic impact of this flight. 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.

Continuing, the minister said: “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.”

Uzoka-Anite also said the choice of Nigerians to fly with Air Peace is a vote of confidence.

“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,” she added.

In his remarks, the acting director general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Chris Najomo  called for the implementation of the Fly Nigeria Act for public officials so that the indigenous carriers would survive on any international route.

He pledged NCAA’s support for Air Peace and other indigenous carriers to succeed on international routes.

The statement added that the airline operated with a 274-seat capacity Boeing 777 for the maiden flight

Apart from the ministers and NCAA DG, other dignitaries who witnessed the inaugural flight were the chairman and chief executive officer of United Nigeria Airlines, Mr Obiora Okonkwo, managing director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs Olubunmi Kuku, board Member of the airline, Mr. Benedict Adeyileka, among others.