Air Peace enhances regional connectivity with Freetown, Banjul, Dakar launch
After weeks of delay, Air Peace has delivered on its promise to enhance air connectivity on the West Coast region, with the launch of Freetown, Banjul, and Dakar flight services.
The new service brings the number of Nigerian carriers on the route to two (after Med-View Airlines Plc), creating additional capacity for traffic ahead of the full implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).The expanded West Coast operations, after the Lagos-Ghana operation debut in 2017, was initially scheduled for launch on December 15, 2017, but for industrial action at the Dakar International Airport in Senegal, which forced it to be put on hold.
The maiden flight on Monday was, however, welcomed with accolades from top government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, aviation regulators, and corporate leaders in Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Senegal.Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, reiterated that seamless air connectivity is pivotal to the socio-economic development of countries within the West Coast of Africa and other nations on the continent, hence, the determination of the airline to operate in the region.
Onyema said the carrier was determined to unlock the economies of countries on the West Coast of Africa with the launch of its Freetown, Banjul, and Dakar services, by offering air travellers on business and leisure trips seamless connectivity as well as creating jobs for the people.According to him, “The launch of our Freetown, Banjul, and Dakar services today brings our regional network to four routes, and a total of 16 domestic and West Coast destinations with more than 80 daily flights.
“In the next few weeks, we hope to add five more services to expand our regional route network to a total of nine destinations. This broad route network, we believe, will form a solid base to link African nations and connect the continent to the rest of the world by air.”Onyema, who was represented by the airline’s Corporate Communications Manager, Chris Iwarah, added that the airline would soon commence flight operations to many international destinations, including Dubai, Guangzhou-China, London, Houston, Mumbai, and South Africa.It would be recalled that Air Peace recently increased its fleet size from 12 to 24 aircraft, to build its capacity in proportion to its massive expansion project.
The launch of Air Peace Freetown, Banjul and Dakar services closely followed the inauguration of its Kano and Yola flight operations on February 12 and 15 respectively.Receiving Air Peace delegation moments after the maiden flight to Freetown touched down at the Freetown International Airport, Lungi, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Transport, Balogun Koroma, commended the carrier for extending its operations to the country.
Koroma said they in Sierra Leone were looking for in-flight quality service, on-time service and adherence to local content laws in terms of employment of locals “and Air Peace has given us the assurance that they would adhere to that”.Shortly after departing Freetown, the inaugural flight landed at the Banjul International Airport, where the Director of Operations of The Gambia Airport Authority, Abdoulie Colley, assured Air Peace that it would be accorded the needed support to succeed in the country.
For his part, an excited Nigeria High Commissioner to The Gambia, Ambassador Oluwasegun Ibidapo-Obe, said the coming of Air Peace would strengthen bilateral relations between Nigeria and The Gambia.The envoy said The Gambia had a lot of potential that Nigerians could exploit and improved air connectivity would boost mutual the socio-economic relations between Nigeria and The Gambia.
Relationship Manager, Corporate Banking of FBN Gambia Limited, Mike Junior Emeh, said Air Peace’s expansion of its route network to The Gambia and other West Coast countries was a big relief for travellers.He urged the airline to maintain its on-time reputation and consistency, assuring that the carrier would succeed in its West Coast flight operations.
In Dakar, the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of LAS, Xavier Mary, who spoke on behalf of the operators of Senegal’s new airport, Aeroport International Blaise Diagne, said Air Peace’s Dakar service was a good opportunity for improving businesses between Nigeria and Senegal.
In his own goodwill speech, Minister in the Embassy of Nigeria, Dakar, Lot Egopija, said he was pleased that Air Peace was fulfilling the cardinal agenda of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to bridge the gap among its member-states.
“Air Peace coming into Dakar is to create access to the people of both countries and also to further the ECOWAS agreement.“Nigeria has Bi-lateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) with many nations, and having a population of 180 million people, it is a good way of ensuring Nigerians have access to these people and also their businesses. “Many people have preconceived notions about Nigeria, and I hope that Air Peace will be able to allay their fears by connecting them to the country to see our vast potential,” he said.
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