Some of the passengers of the inaugural flight of Air Peace to London on their arrival at the Gatwick Airport/Photo: Air Peace

Excitement greets airline’s launch of Lagos-London operations

Nigeria’s biggest airline has launched regular scheduled non-stop flights to London from Lagos. Air Peace’s inaugural flight on 31 March was greeted by Nigerians like an epochal event as the airline offers much lower fares compared to international carriers plying the same route.

The London trip comes a month after the Nigerian flag carrier said it would commence direct flight operations from Lagos to Gatwick Airport in London. Air Peace had secured a foreign carrier operator permit (FCOP) to fly into the United Kingdom in November 2023.

“Our launch of London route is more than just a flight service – it’s the enhancement of socio-economic relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom,” Air Peace said in a press statement marking the commencement of its direct flight operations to London, the airline’s 7th international destination.

“And we’re happy to be fostering these bilateral ties between both countries through hassle-free connectivity,” the statement added.

“Our route expansion is driven by the ambition to ease the burden of air travel by interconnecting cities seamlessly while facilitating economic prosperity among countries and deepening socio-cultural ties.”

Air Peace plane at Gatwick Airport, London, on 31 March/Photo: Air Peace

Air Peace, which operated a Boeing 777 for its maiden flight, held a brief ceremony at the New Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos to celebrate the event.

Festus Keyamo, Nigeria’s minister of aviation, speaking at the event said the commencement of direct Lagos-London flights by Air Peace would ease the pressure on the Nigerian local currency naira, as it would reduce the demand for foreign exchange by Nigerians and foreign airlines.

Keyamo said the start of flight services on the route by the domestic carrier had also compelled some mega airlines to reduce fares on the Lagos-London route.

The minister promised that the federal government would continue to protect the airline and other Nigerian carriers that may want to operate international services, and assured them of the government’s support.

Also speaking, the Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, corroborated Keyamo’s revelation, saying that Air Peace flight to London has forced other international carriers to review their fares downwards to that destination, noting that this had helped the appreciation of the naira because Air Peace sells its tickets in naira.

“Air Peace commencement of Lagos-London flight has forced international airlines to reduce fares from over N4 million to N1.8 million to N1.9 million. This event has saved this country billions of naira in the last three weeks. It has also helped in improving the value of the naira against the dollar. These foreign airlines were charging exorbitant fares and had so much money in their hands. They took this money to go to the market to look for dollars, putting a strain on the naira,” Onyeama said.

“But now we are doing this flight and people are paying what they are supposed to pay and there is less demand for dollars because fewer naira now is chasing the dollar and the dollar is coming down. So, Air Peace has also contributed in bringing the naira to dollar rate down, enabled by the measures put in place by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”

Air Peace operated 2,700 scheduled flights in March 2024, according to its latest published Flight Performance Report.

Kola Tella

Check Also

What you should know about the new terminal at Lagos airport

President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the new Terminal 2 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in …