BY Sade Williams/Business a.m.
A new chapter in the relations between Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy by gross domestic product (GDP) and the largest by population size, and China, the world’s second largest economy and largest by population, has been opened by way of air travel with the commencement of direct flight operations between the city of Lagos in Nigeria and the Chinese city of Guangzhou, by Air Peace.
Air Peace, the largest airline in West Africa by fleet size, launched the maiden flight on Wednesday and immediately promised air travellers on the route what it says would be best-in-class experience on the journey to a country seen as the manufacturing capital of the world and which many Nigerian traders and importers like to visit to do business.
Oluwatoyin Olajide, chief operating officer, Air Peace, at the ceremony just before the inaugural flight from the new international terminal of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, said the airline is not stopping with Guangzhou, but was launching further into India and Israel soon.
She disclosed that the airline will stop at nothing to modernise its fleet as it continues to expand its networks.
“The flying public, especially those that fly the Guangzhou route, should expect best-in-class flight experience, which is characteristic of the Air Peace brand. We’re not stopping with Guangzhou – India is next and Israel is in the works. Also planned for subsequent launch are Malabo in Equatorial Guinea and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We will continue to grow our route network, as well as modernise our fleet strategically. Air Peace currently boasts of a network of twenty domestic routes, seven regional routes and two international destinations, including Dubai and Johannesburg,” she said.
Earlier, Olajide asserted that Air Peace has kept to its promise at its inception, to create employment for Nigerians and provide seamless air travel connections for Africans.
“When we set out for the Air Peace trajectory in 2014, we envisaged an airline that would predominantly do two things: create massive employment for Nigerians and reduce the burden of air travel for Nigerians, and by extension, Africans, through the provision of affordable and peaceful connectivity across cities and continents.
“Now, we can confidently assert that Air Peace has kept to this vision of providing seamless connections and expanding existing networks to accommodate the evolving air travel needs of the flying public. Today, we’re officially adding the continent of Asia to our network of continents, with the commencement of the initial one-weekly flight to Guangzhou-China.
“If you’ve been following the growth of Air Peace, you’ll be familiar with the fact that the Chinese airspace is not new to us, as we’ve successfully operated several evacuation/special flights to the country at different times in the past, especially in 2020, during the COVID-19 lockdown. So, we’re going into China, not as newcomers, but as an airline that is technically and operationally acclimatised with the Chinese terrain,” she added.
While appreciating the Ministry of Aviation; the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority; Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria; the Chinese government, and other stakeholders for their support, Olajide said the airline will work harmoniously with all relevant aviation actors to ensure that the Lagos-Guangzhou route is maximised.