Air Peace has become the first airline in Nigeria to commence direct flight between the country and State of Israel.
The airline in a statement said that the direct flight between the two countries would start on April 20, 2023.
The statement described the feat as a huge relief to Nigerians and Israelis who have to travel for 27 hours from Nigeria to Israel via other nations, but stressed that direct flight between the two countries would take just five hours to accomplish.
The airline said Israeli government has confirmed its inaugural flight to Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel-Aviv, Israel, which would be on April 20, 2023.
According to the statement, Brigadier-General Miri Regev, the Israeli Minister of Transportation and Road Safety, disclosed this in Israel and noted that this would be a historical feat.
There had never been a direct flight between the Middle East nation and Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s flag carrier, Air Peace, will begin operating direct flights to Israel for the first time, starting on April 20, the Minister of Transportation and Road Safety announced today (Sunday). Minister Regev today (Sunday) approved the aviation agreement signed between Israel and Nigeria, and submitted it for government approval.
“The signed agreement will for the first time allow the airlines of each of the countries to operate regular flights at Ben Gurion Airport to several destinations in Nigeria, such as Abuja and Lagos. In the first phase, the Nigerian company (airline) will operate two weekly flights between Israel and Nigeria.
“So far, no direct flights have been operated between the two countries and the thousands of pilgrims who come to Israel every year from Nigeria have flown through Turkey or Ethiopia. The agreement will allow Israeli and Nigerian airlines to make direct flights between the countries and increase the number of pilgrims who come to Israel every year,” the statement said.
Brigadier-General Miri Regev said Israel has started opening new routes to connect the world and identified Nigeria as one of the leading countries in Africa that maintained close ties with Israel.
The statement quoted Regev as saying that Israel had recently witnessed a wave of new routes being opened to destinations all over the world, and expressed delight about the launch of direct flights to Nigeria as well.
He emphasised that Nigeria was one of the leading countries in Africa, and it had continued to maintain close ties with Israel in a wide variety of fields, along with traffic of pilgrims who come to Israel to visit the holy places of Christianity.
He welcomed the opening of the new line, assuring that it would contribute to strengthening the business and cultural ties between the two countries.
Commenting on the new route, Mr. Allen Onyema, the Chairman of Air Peace, enthused that the airline was prepared for the inaugural and subsequent flights to the Holy Land.
Onyema explained that the new route would commence with two flights weekly, while frequency would increase with time.
Onyema commended the governments of Nigeria and Israel, saying that they made it possible, breaking old barriers to make direct flight between the two countries a reality.
He added that this indicated strong relationship between the two countries.
He also informed that the airline had completed plans to begin three times a week flight service to Jeddah and Medina in order to make it easy for Nigerians who wish to travel for pilgrimage, maintaining that this was in fulfillment of the promise the airline made to Nigerians of connecting them to domestic destinations and to the world.
He expressed confidence that the carrier would secure approval from Saudi authorities for the flight service and in next few days would announce the date for the schedule flight operation.
Air Peace was also the first Nigerian carrier that met the stringent safety and security standard of Israel, which enabled it to evacuate Israeli citizens during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
The airline has started direct flight to China and on March 31 it would launch another direct flight to India.