By Stanley Olisa
In the last couple of weeks, the media have been saturated with news of multiple route launches by West and Central Africa’s largest carrier, Air Peace. In less than 10 days, the foremost airline extended its wings to three new destinations, Ibadan in southwest Nigeria, Gombe in the North East and Douala in Francophone West Africa.
One can’t help lauding this aggressive route expansion drive by the airline, even sceptics can’t deny the fact that Air Peace is on a determined mission to ease the burden of air travel in Africa, with its exemplary no-city-left-behind initiative, which has seen it open more routes than any other indigenous airline.
Considering the Leviathan milestones that the airline has made, it is incredible to many that Air Peace has been around for just about seven years. Its ever-expanding route network, high-quality workforce and increasing fleet as well as the varied composition of this fleet, give the airline significant leverage to go level-pegging with other big carriers globally.
With these newly launched routes, Air Peace now boasts of 19 domestic routes, six regional routes and two international destinations, with numerous strategic connections locally, in response to the needs of the Nigerian flying public. It is evident that the airline is providing a huge succour to Nigerian air travellers by plugging the lacunas in the nation’s air transportation.
The airline is not just opening new routes, it is connecting cities beyond the regular commercial nerve-centres, which are stereotypically the mainstay of most airlines. Air Peace looks beyond these popular cities and, as a socially sensitive brand, takes into cognisance the air travel needs of Nigerians in other cities like Gombe, Makurdi, Ilorin, and the likes. Apart from commencing new routes, the airline keeps launching key connections which provide respite to Nigerians. A few months back, the airline flagged off Benin-PH-Benin, Kano-PH-Kano and Kano-Asaba-Kano connections to abate the transportation stress of the residents in these cities and give them more network options. Air Peace had stated that the connections further demonstrated its commitment to providing strategic connectivity which fills the void in Nigeria’s air travel.
Deepening stronghold in North East
On August 11, 2021, the airline expanded its presence in the North East with the launch of three weekly flights from Lagos and Abuja to Gombe with the brand new Embraer 195-E2 airplanes. According to Air Peace’s ground operations manager, Adeyemi Ayodeji, before the airline decided to kick off flight operations into the city, the airline conscientiously considered the travel needs of those in the North East geo-political zone.
Ayodeji said: “Our consistent route expansion is propelled by our untiring resolve to close the loopholes in Nigeria’s air travel and more importantly, give the Nigerian flying public multiple network options. With this new route, Air Peace is providing more options of connectivity for the people of Gombe State. Air Peace is reputed for its no-city-left-behind mantra and the goal is to ease the air travel burden of Nigerians, fostering unity and driving more healthy commercial relations between cities.”
Oyo State economy gets boost with Air Peace’s entry
Exactly six days later, the airline began Abuja-Ibadan operations, which, according to the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, was “big relief to teeming city travellers, as the airline has immediately crashed the airfare from Ibadan to Abuja to an affordable level.”
“The coming of Air Peace will strengthen and enhance the economy of the state. We have a dry port here that will facilitate the clearing of goods in record time. This will take the stress off importers in the state and neighbouring states and save them the stress of going to Lagos port to clear goods. The coming of Air Peace airline will facilitate this process. We want the airline to also commence cargo flights to the state,” Makinde asserted.
Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, promised to link Ibadan to every geo-political zone of the country. He added that the commencement of the Ibadan route was part of the airline’s no-city-left-behind programme, where every city in the country will be interconnected by air. In Onyema’s words: “Plans are already on to commence Port Harcourt-Ibadan flights. Ibadan-Kano flight is also already in the pipeline. I believe in the oneness of Nigeria. As a nationalist, I am going to connect all cities in the country. I will link Ibadan to the South South, South East, North East, North West and every part of the country.”
Plaudits from Anambra State government
Still in the euphoric fray of the new routes by Air Peace, the Anambra State government applauded the airline for its no-city-left-behind strategy, which has seen it launch operations with rapidity in different parts of the country in the last few months.
The state government commended the airline for “an aggressive route development programme when airlines across the globe are managing to remain afloat as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which dealt a serious blow to not just the aviation sector but also the entire tourism industry.”
According to the state government, it is delighted that, while some airlines are acquiring refurbished aircraft, Air Peace has been purchasing a large number of brand new, state-of-the-art equipment and deploying them on domestic routes for the safety and comfort of Nigerians. It also charged other airlines to emulate Air Peace “by developing routes like Ibadan-Port Harcourt and Enugu-Kano to deepen national integration, rather than continue with traditional flying from Abuja into Lagos and flying into other cities from these places.”
Air Peace deserves more kudos
President/group chief executive officer of Transcorp Nigeria, Oweno Mogiafo, on her Instagram page, wrote: “We are simply not giving enough kudos to Air Peace for connecting Nigeria. Well done, guys.”
This succinct statement by Mogiafo sums up the essence of this piece. Air Peace is committed to connecting Nigeria, giving Nigerians access to safe and best-in-class air connectivity. This is a project that the Onyema-owned airline has taken upon itself and continues to execute vigorously.
•Olisa wrote from Lagos