A domestic carrier, Air Peace, has been designated by the Federal Government to operate flight services to Tel Aviv, Israel.
The Chairman of Air Peace, Mr Allen Onyema, told journalists that the designation would help Nigeria to benefit from a Bilateral Air Service Agreement of several decades.
He said the airline had also been given the right to fly to Mumbai, India, adding that the service would commence by March.
“We will start the Mumbai route by March 2020; and later in the year, we will commence direct flight to Tel Aviv in Israel. 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,” he said.
Onyema also stated that the Federal Government had begun to support indigenous carriers by addressing the multiple frequencies and destinations granted foreign airlines in Nigeria.
According to him, if the gesture is sustained, domestic carriers will become stronger.
He said, “The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has been addressing the proliferation of foreign airlines into Nigeria, especially multiple designations. A lot of foreign airlines have been applying for multiple designations but the government is trying to address it.
“Airline business does not make anyone richer but considering the number of employment opportunities it generates, we need to begin to promote support our indigenous carriers and other businesses.”
While condemning the stigmatisation of Nigerians, he said it had become necessary to address such issues that impeded business growth.
Onyema alleged that it had been difficult for Nigerian airlines to get dry aircraft lease because of international stigmatisation.
According to him, any investment that is helping the country to reduce unemployment should be protected by the government as well as Nigerians.
“In other countries, anyone creating at least 30 to 50 jobs is protected. But it is not so in Nigeria. Nigerians need to support indigenous enterprises,” he said.
Onyema said the Federal Government could protect the jobs, reduce crime and have a saner society by protecting indigenous enterprises.
Using Aero Contractors as an example, he said the airline had helped other indigenous carriers to save forex by carrying out aircraft maintenance that could cost millions of dollars.
He stated that with support from the government to expand Aero’s aircraft maintenance capacity, other airlines would not only save forex, more jobs would be created for Nigerians.