FG Pledges Unwavering Support For Local Airlines’ Expansion

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FMAv NCAA Air Peace
The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), in a group photograph with the chief executive officer of NORSE Atlantic Airways and other officials of the ministry, NCAA and Air Peace Airline in London.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN, has affirmed the unwavering commitment of the Federal Government of Nigeria to support the growth and flourishing of local airlines.

Keyamo conveyed this commitment during discussions with the management of NORSE Atlantic Airways, a major carrier in the UK and Europe, led by its CEO, Mr. Ben Boiling.

The ministry’s head of press and public affairs, Odutayo Oluseyi, highlighted that the Minister expressed his dedication to ensuring that Nigerian airlines break new grounds, expand their reach and thrive in the competitive aviation industry. The discussions primarily focused on the partnership between NORSE Atlantic Airways and Air Peace Airline, one of Nigeria’s leading domestic carriers.

Keyamo underscored the importance of supporting the growth of Nigeria’s domestic airlines as part of the key performance indicators (KPI) and presidential directives. He reiterated that aviation plays a crucial role in the Renewed Hope Agenda of the current administration led by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, aimed at revitalizing Nigeria’s economy.

During the meeting, Mr. Boiling expressed gratitude to the Minister for his participation in the discussions. He emphasized NORSE Atlantic Airways’ readiness to commence the partnership with Air Peace Airline as soon as the final authorisation is granted for the commencement of direct flights from Lagos, Nigeria, to Gatwick Airport in London.

Officials from the Nigerian Aeronautical Authority, including representatives from the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), present in London included the acting director-general of NCAA, Capt. Chris Najomo; Director of air transport management of the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr Hassan Ejibunu and NCAA’s director of air transport regulations, Mrs Olayinka Babaoye-Iriobe. The delegation engaged with officials from the Department for Transport of the UK to address the issue of slot allocation for Air Peace Airline’s direct flights to Gatwick Airport.

Since obtaining authorisation to fly into the UK and meeting all requirements, slot allocation at Gatwick Airport has been a major hurdle preventing Air Peace Airline from initiating direct flights to London. The department for transport officials acknowledged that the UK government does not control slot allocation at primary airports but expressed willingness to convey the concerns of the Federal Government of Nigeria to relevant authorities.

Key officials from Air Peace Airline, including its chief operating officer, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Olajide and executive director, Ms. Nnenna Onyema were part of the meeting. The delegation presented three major issues on behalf of Air Peace Airline, including staggering departure time, restrictive turnaround time and approval for the 2024 summer schedule.

The outcome of the meeting is anticipated to address these concerns and pave the way for the Nigerian airline to commence its long-awaited flight operations into the United Kingdom. Nigerians have eagerly awaited this development which is expected to enhance bilateral air travel between Nigeria and the UK.

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