Air Peace to launch Lagos-London route on March 30 with special discounted student rate

NIGERIAN commercial airline Air will commence flights between London and Lagos on March 30 this year with special student fares introduced as part of its offering in what is a major expansion of its operations into the international market.


Under the terms of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (Basa) between the UK and Nigeria, Air Peace has just obtained the UK Third Country Operator authorisation to fly into Britain. There has been some debate about which London airport Air Peace would fly into but it appears that the airline has now been given a slot at Gatwick.


Allen Onyema, the Air Peace chairman, called on travel agents to manage the special student fares so that it is not abused by passengers. He added that these special fares will make it easy and affordable for students to travel during holidays and to return to the UK at  school resumption time.


Mr Onyema said: “Several parents have been disconnected from their children and many students have not been home for over two years because their parents cannot afford return fares to London. Parents will no longer suffer to raise money for fares for their children because the student fares will be affordable for all parents.


“My children all schooled abroad and we insist that they return to Nigeria during their school breaks no matter how short. This is to enable us remain connected to our children and ensure they stick to our values and culture.


"I know this is also the desire of several other parents but this desire has been cut short because of high fares. This narrative will change as soon as Air Peace resumes flights to London."


He did not reveal how much Air Peace will charge on London route but assured that the fares will be cheaper than what the foreign airlines are currently charging. At the moment, the cheapest economy class return ticket from Nigeria to London cost about N1.6m ($1,000).


Over the last two years, air fares have risen by over 400% as a result of accumulating trapped funds of foreign airlines in Nigeria caused by the exchange rate crisis. As a result, over the last two years, airlines blocked low ticket inventories, leaving high inventories to be sold in naira only while the low ticket inventories on most airlines’ websites can only be bought with dollar denominated cards.


Bankole Bernard, the chairman of the Airlines and Passengers’ Joint Committee of the International Air Transport Association, said: “There will be a bit of balance. Air Peace has been given a daily slot to Gatwick which amounts to seven frequencies, compared to 21 frequencies that the legacy airlines have; 14 in Lagos and seven in Abuja. To an extent, we have something that will balance it up.


“Air Peace is not going to be faced with challenges of foreign exchange because the fares will be in naira. It is a welcome idea for travel agents and Nigeria as a whole. We appeal to Air Peace to try it’s best to sustain the London route. We are willing to give them all the support to ensure this is successful. With Air Peace, travel agents envisage a 50% fare reduction."


Oluwatoyin Olajide, the chief operating officer of Air Peace, said the service will be operated using the airline’s Boeing 777 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircrafts. She added that the airline will be launching the project with special promo fares and attractive plans for agents.