By Chinelo Obogo
Air Peace has taken delivery of the fourth brand new E195-E2 aircraft ordered from aircraft with three more to be added before the year ends as it intensifies plans to connect more states across Nigeria.
The aircraft, Kingsley Chukwula Onyema with registration marks 5N-BYI which arrived from the Embraer facility in Sao Jose Dos Campos, Brazil was welcome with a water canon salute at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema who was on ground with members and executives of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) said the aircraft were bought to further improve safety, save fuel, improve operational cost. He said the airline made firm order for 13 aircraft but that forex scarcity has delayed their arrival. He explained that the airline is grappling with foreign exchange issues and before aircraft is delivered some payments have to be made.
He said Air Peace decided to go for brand new aircraft in order to give Nigerians what they deserve and make travelling easy for Nigerians by interconnecting all cities in Nigeria so as to energize the country and provide jobs, noting that the 195-E2 plane can land where Boeing 737 cannot land because if it’s unique technology.
“We have increased connectivity and additional destinations. We are doing Port Harcourt, Asaba –Kano, Benin-PortHarcourt. We have started Lagos-Douala and we are going to connect to other destinations in the West and Central Africa. A lot of people do not give Nigerian airlines the respect they deserve. Nigerian airlines are very safe. In 2018, we decided that as part of our business plans, we would start operating new aircraft. Old aircraft are also good and safe but for new aircraft, maintenance and operational costs are lower. Nigerian airlines have one of the youngest fleet in the world. Some planes flying in the United States are as old as 40 or 50 years but in Nigeria, operators use younger fleet,” he said.
Speaking on the recent flight delays and cancellations he said, “Airlines do not intentionally delay or cancel flights but this is as a result of COVID-19 challenges and the poor weather experienced across the country. Airlines cannot fly planes that are not airworthy.”
The new aircraft has increased the number in the airline’s fleet to 29, the largest in Nigeria. The airline also has 19 domestic routes, six regional and two international routes.
The Director General NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu who was at the event, congratulated Air Peace for consistency in its plans to expand its fleet and connect more cities in Nigeria. He said that pre-covid, 10 to 12 million passengers passed through the country’s airports, which only amounts to 10 percent of the country’s population.
“It gladdens my heart that Nigerian airlines are not only getting new aircraft but are getting the right aircraft. The connectivity in Nigeria has improved and it’s getting better. These new aircraft have low maintenance and operational costs and are environmental friendly. This is the way to go. I believe with time, Air Peace will change all it’s fleet to newer ones,” Nuhu said.