The Consul General of Nigeria to South Africa, Abdulmalik Ahmed, has said that the bilateral trade between Nigeria and South Africa is worth $8.6 billion.
Ahmed said the mutual benefit of the trade relation was bound to yield more with better air connectivity.
Ahmed, while welcoming Air Peace’s inaugural flight in Johannesburg, disclosed that the value of Nigeria’s yearly exports to South Africa is over $3.8 billion while South Africa similarly exported $4.8 billion in 2018 to Nigeria.
He said South Africa has remained Nigeria’s biggest partner over the years.
Air Peace had at the weekend operated its inaugural flight from Lagos to South Africa. Speaking on the economic benefit of the flight, the Nigerian envoy noted that route launch would help improve foreign inflows to both countries and encourage investment.
He said: “Nigeria provides a favourable business environment and large market for a wide range of South African companies, including MTN, Multichoice, Shoprite and Protea Hotels.
The Lagos- Johannesburg route was serviced by Air Arik and South African Airways but unfortunately, both airlines could not sustain operations on the routes. It is against this background that Air Peace is entering the market.”
Going further, he called on Nigerians to establish more businesses in South Africa to quell xenophobic attacks.
“I would call on Nigerian corporate entities to follow the lead of Air Peace and take advantage of the huge investment opportunities in South Africa.
“The number of Nigerian corporate entities here compared to a large number of South African entities in Nigeria does not reflect the spirit of the industry of our people. An increase in corporate presence could be a weapon in the fight against xenophobia. We at the consulate are always ready to facilitate the processes of your arrival.”
The Chief Operating Officer, Airports Company, South Africa, Fundi Sithe, commended the airline for flying into their flagship airport, O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.
She noted that the number of passengers on the return trip showed that the operation was much-awaited.
“Yesterday, we saw that the inaugural flight arrived at Oliver Tambo International Airport. It arrived with 85 passengers on board and departed later with 207 passengers. That is quite significant because the difference tells us that there is a huge market that has not been serviced.”
The airport manager hoped for more frequencies and a direct route to Durban or Cape Town soon.
Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Toyin Olajide, noted that the airline would be expecting three aircraft to boost domestic and regional operations.
She added that there are other international routes in the offing such as Houston-USA, Mumbai-India, Guangzhou-China, and London.
Customers, who are looking to connect cities in Nigeria or other countries, which the airline was operating in, were advised to apply, as the airline pledged to carry passengers to their final destination at a promo price of R6, 175.