The chairman of Air Peace, one of Nigeria’s leading commercial airlines, Mr. Allen Onyema yesterday commended the Federal Government for choosing the airline to airlift about 274 Israelis from Lagos and Abuja airports to Tel-Aviv, Israel.
The flight, which had on board 65 passengers from Lagos and 209 passengers from Abuja, was first of such direct airlifting of travellers from Nigeria to the country in 60 years.
Onyema described the flight as historic breaking 60-year old jinx of no direct flight between Israel and Nigeria and expressed the hope that subsequently the two countries would have scheduled direct flight between Lagos and Tel-Aviv.
He said: “I thank the governments of Nigeria and Israel for making this happen. It is a historic day for both Nigeria and Israel. History has been made today. 60 years of diplomatic relations, no direct flight has been conducted between Nigeria and Israel till today. So, this is the first time Nigeria and Israel will have direct air connectivity.
“So, it is a historic day and it is going to portend greater things that will come. Both countries have a lot to gain by having direct flights. Nigeria is a land of huge potentials, which Israel may be willing to tap into, while Nigeria will want to tap into science and technology, which Israel is known for.
“I really want to thank the Federal Government of Nigeria for making this possible. Previous administrations were unable to pull this through, but this government did it”, Onyema enthused.
He said the Israel government also gave its support and allowed for the first time a Nigerian airline to operate direct flight to Israel, noting that this is something good for both countries, good for our diplomatic relations.
“So I feel proud, I feel privileged to be part of this history and I thank God Almighty for it. We have to build from here now going forward.”
Onyema expressed optimism that the COVID-19 pandemic which has disrupted global air travels would soon be over.
“This COVID-19 storm will be over someday. When it is over we look forward to do scheduled direct flight to Israel; at least twice a week to Tel-Aviv; this will help boost business relations between both countries.”
The Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Shimon Ben-Shoshan expressed happiness for the successful evacuation of his country’s citizens from Nigeria and commended the Chairman of Air Peace for making the airlift possible.
Daily Trust reports that though the airports had been shut in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, evacuation flight is among the exemptions granted by the Federal Government.
Such exemptions are often routed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Minister of Aviation.