Despite inconsistent government policies coupled with bureaucratic bottlenecks hindering the smooth operations of indigenous airlines, West Africa’s largest carrier, Air Peace, recently recorded another breakthrough.
This time it is not the expansion of its fleets as has been the case, rather the private carrier made a remarkable entry into the European air space after securing Foreign Carrier Operator Permit, FCOP, to fly to London
This permit allows airlines from other regions to fly to Europe and Third Country Operator Permit (TCO-UK) that enables airlines to operate to UK.
The airline, founded in 2013 will now operate direct flights with its luxury wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft to these destinations.
While commenting on the milestone, Air Peace Chairman, Allen Onyema, stated that the airline has secured Foreign Carrier Operator Permit, FCOP, which allows airlines from other regions to fly to Europe and Third Country Operator Permit (TCO-UK) that enables airlines to operate to UK.
He said: “We obtained these permits that qualify us to fly to UK. Before you obtain these approvals, they will audit you very well. You have to go through stringent audit, which we passed. We obtained the permit last week.”
The airline also expanded its Asian footprints with the commencement of direct scheduled commercial flights into Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The inaugural flight, operated with one of the airline’s B777s, was airborne from Kano last Tuesday, with 231 passengers.
Air Peace, before now, had been operating charter flights to Saudi Arabia, airlifting Muslim pilgrims. But this inaugural flight officially kicked off its scheduled operations into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Onyema, described the entry into Jeddah as ‘another milestone recorded in the annals of Nigeria’s aviation history’, stating that Jeddah is the airline’s sixth international destination in just nine years of launching commercial flight operations.
He noted that with the entry into Jeddah, Air Peace has increased its presence on the Asian continent.
Our encounters – Onyema
Meanwhile, it would be recalled that in the last three years, the airline has been striving to commence scheduled operations through the route but has been hindered by several challenges ranging from infrastructural gaps, government policies, landing permits among others.
For instance, during the evacuation flights at the peak of the covid pandemic, Air Peace struggled to get a landing permit into Heathrow airport to help Nigerians.
However, after government intervention, the airline got the permit and tickets were sold out within two hours for a 364-seater aircraft with its Boeing triple seven, B777.
In response to the development, Onyema noted that the reason for the immediate sales was a function of pricing dynamics.
According to him, “It is because Air Peace understood the plight of Nigerians and fixed its fare at less than N400, 000, while another airline coming from there was taking about two thousand pounds from Nigeria.
“We charged Nigerians less than six hundred dollars to and fro. We went there and they tried to discourage us. They sent dogs after our aircraft to sniff at our pilots and at the end of the day, they stopped Air Peace from doing its walk-around on its aircraft, something that violates safety.
“The rule of aviation is that when you take off and your aircraft leaves the ground for just two minutes if that plane wants to land, before that plane can take off again, it must do a walk around because anything could have hit the plane in transit.
“We flew six hours into London but we were not allowed to go round our aircraft to know if it has been compromised. Thankfully, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, petitioned the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) over that.”