Air Peace has crossed the hurdles to operate directly to the United Kingdom after obtaining the Foreign Carrier Operator Permit (FCOP), which allows airlines from other regions to fly to Europe and Third Country Operator Permit (TCO-UK) that enables airlines to operate to the UK.
Chairman/CEO of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, said the permits were secured last week after passing the stringent audits from the UK Authorities.
In a chat with newsmen as the airline marks its 9th anniversary, the Chairman also decried the absence of transit facility in any Nigerian airport which would enable the airline to bring passengers from other African countries to join their international flights.
Daily Trust reports that the airline apart from operating to many of the West African countries also flies to some international destinations including India, Israel, South Africa, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), among others.
With the airline scaling the UK audit, the next international destination on its radar is Britain with the hope of crashing fares on that route. UK is one of the most lucrative routes for airlines operating to Nigeria but is also one of the most expensive tickets with a one-way going as much as N2m especially on the British carriers.
The Air Peace Chairman said the airline went through stringent audits to ensure that it met the high safety status, capacity and standard conditions of the UK, saying it is now qualified to fly to the United Kingdom.
“We obtained these permits that qualify us to fly to the UK. Before you obtain these approvals, they will audit you very well. You have to go through a stringent audit, which we passed. We obtained the permit last week,” he said.
He stated that the lack of transit facilities at the international airports in the country is a major challenge confronting Nigerian airlines.
Onyema who commended Nigerians and the federal government for their role in making the airline a success as it turned nine last week, stated that not having transit facilities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja has blunted the competitiveness of Nigerian airlines.
He said that Air Peace operates to destinations in the West and Central Africa and it should bring passengers from Douala, Banjul, Accra, Lome, Monrovia, Dakar, Freetown and others to its hub in Lagos and from Lagos airlift them to India, China, South Africa, Jeddah and other long-haul destinations.
“But unfortunately, we don’t have a transit facility where these passengers will stay until they board their next flight and Nigeria Immigration Service and Nigeria Customs Service are yet to segment this class of passengers who in other countries are made to wait in the transit facility on the airside until they are due to fly again.
“Currently Immigration treats them like other passengers whose final destination is Nigeria and are expected to obtain a visa and follow other procedures like other passengers who are arriving Nigeria. What is usually obtained is that as long as the passengers are not leaving the airport, they do not need a visa because they are on transit.”