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  One may be tempted to ask, why should Nigerians choose Air Peace? I’ll answer with this piece. For years, before the intervention of Air Peace, Nigerians lived with soaring flight ticket prices. Operators blamed an array of factors for repeatedly hiking fees—exchange rate fluctuations, the cost of aviation fuel, and foreign exchange proceeds owed them by the Central Bank, among others. International travellers were hit particularly badly, as the long distances their flights covered meant they had to part with a fortune for single trips.
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Then a few weeks ago, Air Peace, an indigenous airline, announced that it would begin flying between Lagos and London, an especially popular route for Nigerians. It would be doing this for half the price charged by the foreign airlines that dominated this corridor. The first flight to London’s Gatwick Airport was greeted with much excitement. Now, travellers to the UK only had to pay slightly more than a million naira for seats that had previously gone for over ₦2 million. Not surprisingly, Air Peace’s foreign rivals responded by dropping their prices too. Fearful that they would lose their customers to a local favourite, they have now offered tickets that are cheaper by multiples than they were just a couple of weeks ago. In this article, we’ll see why, despite these follow-on price drops from foreign airlines, Nigerians should choose Air Peace. The reasons we’ll give here are a mix of the merits of the airline itself, and the not-so-savory intentions of its foreign rivals.

A Source of National Pride

Founded in 2013 by businessman Allen Onyema, Air Peace began life with just 7 aircraft. Small as its start was, its team worked with a vision to become a key player in the local aviation industry. Not only have they achieved this aim; they are now unarguably one of the most prominent brands in West Africa. Given that this win has been scored by a wholly Nigerian company, it’s worth celebrating by (and the support of) Nigerians everywhere. Today, Air Peace operates more than 30 aircraft and plans to add many more to this number. Its proprietor has disclosed its intention to procure several dozen more planes to fly international routes, including the Lagos-London flight path. It is currently transitioning away from a Boeing 737-dominated fleet to newer aircraft, in a modernization drive that could make it boast the largest and newest fleet of any private carrier in Africa. Supported by one of its supplier partners, Embraer, Air Peace is setting up aircraft maintenance facilities in Nigeria. This is guaranteed to employ more Nigerians in addition to those already on the payroll of the company. It also ensures that airlines operating in Nigeria will save scarce foreign exchange, and thus preserve the value of the naira.
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A Track Record of Saving Nigerians

The reason for the support of the Air Peace brand is that it has rescued Nigerians abroad (and, consequently, Nigeria’s reputation) on more than one occasion. It’s hard to forget the role this airline played following the outbreak of xenophobic violence against foreigners in South Africa in 2019. Of its own accord, it volunteered to airlift Nigerians stranded in that country for free. More than 300 persons took advantage of this offer and were evacuated through flights from Johannesburg to Lagos. When war broke out in Sudan in 2023, about 277 Nigerians had to leave for neighbouring Egypt. Air Peace helped to fly these Nigerians out of Egypt and back to Nigeria, in a move executed in partnership with the Nigerian government. And, further back in the past, Air Peace was (in 2020) responsible for delivering the first batch of medical supplies for the fight against COVID-19 in Nigeria. This was in addition to its repatriating foreigners who were in Nigeria at that time. These acts of devotion to Nigeria and its people should never be forgotten. They indicate that the Air Peace brand holds its home country close to the core of its concerns. For this, it ought to have the public stand by it going forward.

Air Peace’s Foreign Rivals Have Greatly Exploited Nigerians

For decades, it cost significantly less to fly from South Africa to the UK than it did to travel to the same destination from Nigeria. That’s even though the former journey lasts 9 hours as opposed to the latter’s 6 hours. This discrepancy also existed compared to flights originating from elsewhere in West Africa. Commonsense suggests that persons travelling from Nigeria were being overcharged for no good reason. This thesis has now been proven by the willingness of foreign airlines which demanded these exorbitant fees to lower their prices by huge fractions in the face of competition. Why have they now slashed their prices by half, after years of extracting billions in unwarranted fees from Nigerian passengers? But it gets uglier. The countries from which these foreign airlines originate have a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) with Nigeria, which means (among other things) that carriers from Nigeria are allowed to land at the primary airports of those countries, and vice versa. However, these countries have failed to honour this agreement. They have restricted the number of Nigerian flights coming into their airports even when Nigeria hasn’t done the same to their airlines.
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The UK, for instance, refused to let Air Peace fly to Heathrow, which is the primary airport in London. They even suggested airports that were far away from the centre of the city or much lower on the pecking order of importance. Meanwhile, British airlines like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic dominate the Lagos-London route.

Nigerians Should Rally Behind Air Peace

For all its good deeds, the fact that it’s proudly Nigerian, and the deeply exploitative practices of its rivals, Nigerians should choose Air Peace. It needs our support. Nigerians can do this by patronizing this airline, even in the face of competitive price reductions by its rivals. If we choose Air Peace, at this time, we will be putting our national interests above the dubious intentions of foreign carriers.
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This article was first published on 12th April 2024


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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