Air Peace Eyes Major Asia Expansion

Nigeria may soon have more direct flights to the rest of the world. Based in Lagos, Air Peace is considering launching flights to both Israel and India. On top of flights to these Asian destinations, the airline also hopes to launch flights to London later in the year.

Air Peace
Air Peace commenced operations in 2013. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

As reported by CH-Aviation earlier this week, Nigerian carrier Air Peace has plans for expansion into Asia. The private airline, which was founded in 2013, currently only operates flights within Africa, with the exception of a three times weekly flight to Sharjah in the UAE from Lagos. Sharjah became the airline’s first intercontinental route when it was launched back in July 2019. In fact, Air Peace remains the only Nigerian carrier to fly to the airport.

Further intercontinental expansion

Currently, Air Peace uses the majority of its fleet for domestic flights. In fact, 86.4% of its capacity deployed on domestic routes. However, the carrier clearly has big plans for the coming year, as it could triple the number of intercontinental routes it currently operates.

The first of the three new intercontinental routes planned by the airline is to Mumbai, India. If all goes according to plan, this service is set to commence in March.

Air Peace
Air Peace has finally received approval for flights to Israel. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

The second destination, Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, will start later in the year. A third new international destination, London, is also being planned. However, dates have not been revealed yet. According to Air Peace’s founder and Chief Executive, Allen Onyema, it has been a lengthy process to gain approval for flights to Israel.

Discussing the flights with Punch Magazine, Onyema said,

“We have been given the right to fly to Tel Aviv. After many years of bilateral relations, Nigeria has not been able to have direct flights to Israel.”

It is unknown which Nigerian city will serve the above-mentioned destinations. However, with Air Peace’s main base in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital is the likeliest option.

Air Peace’s safety record

While Air Peace is a relatively new airline, it recently proved its impressive safety record in the IATA’s Operational Safety Audit. The award given to Air Peace last month demonstrated the airline’s success at achieving one hundred percent safety compliance, according to the IATA’s Head of Account Management for West and Central Africa, Dr. Samson Fatokun.

Air Peace’s maintenance operations are outsourced to international companies to ensure they are maintained to the highest standards. As reported by Vanguard, Air Peace’s Boeing 777s are maintained by Israel Aerospace Industries, while its Boeing 737s are maintained by a British company.

Air Peace
Air Peace recently received recognition from the IATA for its safety record. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

A controversial figure at the helm

Air Peace’s founder and Chief Executive, Allen Onyema, was recently charged with money laundering. Interestingly, this charge was not by the Nigerian government, but by the United States.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that Onyema moved money into American bank accounts under the guise of funds for aircraft. However, allegedly the money was in fact used by Onyema to purchase luxury items and cars.

Onyema fully denies the claims, saying that he is “innocent of all charges and the US government will find no dirt on me because I have never conducted business with any illegalities.”

In Nigeria, Mr. Onyema is a popular figure thanks to his business which employs thousands and his commitment to reducing the cost of air travel in Africa. He also recently arranged free flights to repatriate Nigerians who had traveled to South Africa for work but were subjected to xenophobic attacks on their arrival.