United Nigeria in hot pursuit of Air Peace to fly London route, as Prof Okonkwo announces plans to join

State Correspondent 

As Air Peace commences the lucrative Lagos-London route, there are strong indications that two other domestic carriers: United Nigeria Airlines is working assiduously to join the route network.

Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Prof. Obiora Okonkwo, gave the hint on Friday night during the celebration of Air Peace’s inaugural flight to London at terminal 2 of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos.

Prof. Obiora, who confirmed that United Nigeria will also join the route very soon, said Air Peace’s success in achieving the route is a signal that it can be done and also a vindication for the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON).

An elated Obiora, who was on the Air Peace inaugural flight, said: “Today, the AON has won. Today is our victory and we are vindicated that we can do it. I am on the flight and they will never stop. This is the beginning of other international designations that will be opened. We have been saying that the operators can do it. I congratulate Air Peace and there is no doubt that very soon, as you can see, United Nigeria Airlines is next to Air Peace. So, I have no doubt that the next that will come on board is United Nigeria Airlines. For us, this is more than a motivation. It is a certification that it can be done.”

On aero-politics and possible distraction from competitors, Obiora said: “There is no doubt. We are expecting the worst. We are not unmindful of the fact that they will come with the usual tricks but I am handing over this destination to Nigeria. Let them resist whatever that might be coming from other international carriers. Surely they will come but it is only if Nigeria will allow it. 99 per cent of passengers on the trip are Nigerians. They should make Air Peace and other Nigerian airlines that will come on board the first choice before any other operator.”

According to the United Nigeria Chairman, he cannot tell when the carrier will commence the route. He, however, emphasised that “we will start very soon. I cannot tell but if it is left for us to start, we would have started yesterday.”

Drumming support for Air Peace from Nigerians, Obiora added: “We are happy that the Minister has agreed with us that we have problems in the area of aircraft acquisition. It is just the policy that needs to be touched. There are areas that need to be touched. We should not be suffering from the sins of the past because we are not violating any agreement, we are rather victims. Policy-wise there must be a window of foreign exchange.”

Earlier, the Acting Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Chris Najomo, said Air Peace has been on the struggle to achieve the route for the past four years.

Explaining further and giving hopes of the possibility of other domestic airlines joining the fray, Najomo said: “We are so elated that this has come to stay. This is the beginning for all other local airlines to come and follow suit. We are waiting for others to follow suit. We have so many good airlines such as United Nigeria and Ibom Air that can do it. Even Overland can do it. All they need is some encouragement that we have done and that we have pushed. We will be ready to support.”

On aeropolitics, the Acting DG said: “It is expected. It has been there even when I used to fly for Arik Air when the airline was going to London. It was there. Now, because there is a Nigerian carrier on that route, we have given them 21 frequencies. This is just the beginning. It will be there and they will bring all sorts of ways to be able to cripple it but I want to use this opportunity to tell the Federal Government to make a policy that Nigerians and government officials must fly Air Peace. That is my say here. I want the Federal Government to tell Nigerians to fly Air Peace to London.”

(The Will)

Leave a Reply