By Yunus Yusuf
Abuja, June 17, 2021 Mr Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace, says the airline would take delivery of 13 new Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, out of the 30 expected from Brazil’s Embraer Aircraft Manufacturing Company, by the end of 2022.
Onyema made the disclosure on Thursday, at an event marking the delivery of the third E195-E2 new aircraft in Abuja.
Naija247news reports that the aircraft, which landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, at about 3:15 p.m, was received by government officials, top corporate executives, members of the diplomatic corps and high-profiled aviation stakeholders.
He disclosed that additional two aircraft would join its fleet by August, which eight others would be delivered before the end of the year.
The chairman said that it would activate payment for additional 10 aircraft by the beginning of 2023, which would bring the total to 23 aircraft.
“In 2019, we announced the acquisition of 30 Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, which included 13 firm orders and 17 purchase right orders from the Embraer Aircraft company.
“The new additions would be deployed to new routes on local, regional and international destinations,” he said.
The acquisition of the 30 new planes, when fully operational, would further create additional 17, 000 jobs for technical personnel in the country, up from the present 3,000 strong workforce.
“By next year, we hope to receive all the 13 planes we made firm orders for and by the end of 2023, we intend to activate payment for another 10 of the aircraft brand, which will bring the total to 23.
“We have new routes that we want to deploy the aircraft to. We have new routes that we have just opened and more routes will still be explored in the coming months.
“We are opening Gombe very soon and our intention is to open up this country. We will also connect the North East with the North West and other routes. Owerri-Kaduna and other routes will also be connected.
“These aircraft would hit the West Coast and the African region, as the airline will be strengthened further with the inclusion of other routes like Douala (Cameroon), Congo Kinshasa, Niamey (Niger), Dakar (Senegal), as well as Freetown and Liberia.
“We have been designated to operate to so many destinations by the government. We have over 20 destinations, which is very commendable,” Onyema added.
Similarly, Onyema said that the airline was planning to commence the Lagos-London route, with the assistance of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) which was working on fast-tracking the process.
Onyema specifically lauded Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation, for driving deep changes in the sector, since his appointment about six years ago.
In his remarks, Sirika, who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Hassan Musa, described the acquisition of the aircraft by Air Peace as a right step in the right direction.
Sirika said the bold step taken by the airline was in alignment with the Federal Government’s road map for the aviation sector.
He stressed that the use of new airplanes by Nigerian carriers would change the dynamics in airlines’ profitability and sustainability, by driving down maintenance and fueling cost.
The Director General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, described the arrival of the new aircraft as a milestone, saying that recent developments in Nigeria’s air transport industry constituted a paradigm shift.
He commended Onyema, saying that the beauty of the delivery was not just that the aircraft is new but that the airline chose the right aircraft suitable for the market.
“Today is another milestone and a paradigm shift and this is something that I have not seen since my days at the Nigerian Airways, when they were purchasing the right aircraft for the right routes.
“Air Peace is not only buying aircraft, but buying the right size aircraft for the Nigerian market.
“The Embraer aircraft is the right aircraft, it breaks even with low passenger figures, your maintenance cost is low, your operational cost is also low.
“Another factor is that the new aircraft is absolutely great for the environment, because it does less pollution. I am really proud that I am DG when this paradigm shift is happening.
“We are all here to work together to grow the industry and we have to give kudos to the entrepreneur, because without such people, all this will not be possible, without the entrepreneur the whole system is unraveled, we need entrepreneurs like Onyema” Nuhu said.
Also, Mrs Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank Plc, expressed delight at the changes Air Peace had brought into the sector in recent years.
She promised that the bank would continue to collaborate with the airline in its bid to enhance safety and bring changes to the sector.