By Solomon Asowata
Banjul – The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, says seamless air connectivity is pivotal to the socio-economic development of countries within the Economic Community For West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Onyema made the assertion on Monday during the airline’s inaugural flight operations to Freetown , Sierra Leone ; Banjul, The Gambia; and Dakar in Senegal.
He said the airline was committed to unlocking the economies of Africa, offering air travelers on business and leisure trips seamless connectivity, as well as creating jobs for the people.
“The launch of our Freetown, Banjul and Dakar services today brings our regional network to four routes and a total of 16 domestic and West Coast destinations with more than 80 daily flights.
“In the next few weeks, we hope to add five more services to expand our regional route network to a total of nine destinations.
“This broad route network ,we believe, will form a solid base to link African nations and connect the continent to the rest of the world by air,” Onyema, who was represented by the airline’s Corporate Communications Manager, Mr Chris Iwarah, said.
According to him, the airline is resolute in its determination to end the challenges of air travel on the West Coast of Africa and will soon begin flight operations to many international destinations.
He said the destinations include Dubai, Guangzhou-China, London, Houston, Mumbai and South Africa, stressing that Air Peace had expanded its fleet size to 24 aircraft towards actualising this feat.
Receiving the Air Peace delegation at the Freetown International Airport, Lungi, Mr Balogun Koroma, the Minister of Transportation, Sierra Leone, commended the airline for extending operations to the country.
“We are looking for in-flight quality service, on-time service and adherence to our local content laws in terms of employing our people; and Air Peace has given us the assurance that they would adhere to that,” Koroma said.
At the Banjul International Airport, Mr Abdoulie Colley, Director of Operations, Gambian Airport Authority, assured Air Peace of the needed support to ensure hitch free operations in the country.
Similarly, Prof. Oluwasegun Ibidapo-Ope, Nigerian Ambassador to the Gambia, said the coming of Air Peace would strengthen bilateral relations between both countries.
The ambassador noted that the country had a lot of potential that was waiting to be tapped by Nigerians, and expressed optimism that the connectivity being provided by Air Peace would help in improving the situation.
In Dakar, Mr Xavier Mary, who spoke on behalf of the operators of Aeroport International Blaise Diagne , said it was a good opportunity for improving businesses between Nigeria and Senegal.
Also, Mr Lot Egopija, Minister in the Embassy of Nigeria, Dakar, said one of the main agenda of ECOWAS was to bridge the gap among its member states.
Egopija said: “Air Peace coming into Dakar is to create access to the people of both countries and also to further the ECOWAS agreement.
“Nigeria has Bi-lateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) with many nations, and having a population of 180 million people, it is a good way of ensuring Nigerians have access to these people and also their businesses.
“Many people have preconceived notions about Nigeria, and I hope that Air Peace will be able to allay their fears by connecting them to the country to see our vast potentialities.”