Almost a year after the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Abhay Thakur, disclosed that Air Peace might begin direct flights to India from Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer, Air Peace Limited, Mr Allen Onyema, has said that Air Peace has been designated to commence direct flights from Nigeria to India.
Onyema made the disclosure during the maiden edition of the ‘India-Nigeria Business Forum’ held in Abuja.
The forum which was at the instance of the Indian High Commission in Nigeria, was a follow-up to the first-ever India-Nigeria Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting held in New Delhi from 19-20 December 2019.
The Abuja forum held in order to highlight the business opportunities emanating from the JTC talks, especially in the areas of power and renewable energy, agriculture and agro-food processing, telecommunications, mining, health, education, technology and capacity building cooperation relevant to Nigeria’s developmental needs.
Onyema disclosed that the designation of Air Peace was as a result of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) concluded between Nigeria and India.
“If it was not concluded, Air Peace wouldn’t have been designated in the first place. So, Air Peace has been designated to fly the flag of Nigeria as its flag carrier to Mumbai and we are set to go,” Onyema said.
Earlier, Onyema said going by the business opportunities that abound in both Nigeria and India, and considering that India is the largest democracy in the world and Nigeria in Africa, airline connectivity between both countries is something that should have been established several years ago.
Onyema also said considering the relationship between Nigeria and India which predates the nation’s independence, one would have expected that there should have been air connectivity between Nigeria and India before now.
He further said Nigerians should be thankful to the Federal Government for making it possible for Air Peace to fly the flag of Nigeria to India.
“This is the first time in so many years that an airline will fly into that country. We are going to provide direct connectivity to India. It is going to, not only serve the Indo-Nigerian market here, but the entire West and Central Africa.
“And it is going to create a kind of hub for Nigeria whereby we will use our other flights from West and Central Africa, bring them to Nigeria, fly them out of Nigeria straight to Mumbai; direct flight, just nine hours and we are there,” Onyema disclosed.
Asked how soon the direct flights between Nigeria and India will commence, Onyema said Air Peace is as ready as even yesterday.
“We are very ready. We are just waiting for the Indian side to give the final nod. The Nigerian Government has done its part; we are waiting on India to give us the final permit,” Onyema also said.
In his remarks, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, said the forum was very strategic, particularly looking at the areas the forum discussed.
The minister commended the Indian High Commission for its activities in the country, and the Indian Government for the achievements and successes recorded, particularly in the area of digital economy, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and many more.
He urged the Nigerian representatives at the forum to avail themselves of the opportunity so that the country can make maximum benefit from the outcome of the forum.