The Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema is eyeing employment opportunities for 8,000 Nigerians following the delivery of the first Embraer E195-E2 out of the 13 ordered by the airline.
Speaking at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja On Thursday, Onyema said he ordered for 30 new aircraft, which include 13 firm orders and 17 purchase right orders, coming second to Lufthansa globally, which ordered 35.
He said, “We made the order for 30 aircraft. We made firm orders for 13; we have 17 others on purchase right meaning whenever we are ready to buy the other 17, we will get them at the same price we got the 13. We received one today and in two weeks, the next one will follow and continue in two-week intervals.”
Onyema said the new plane was efficient with less maintenance and has the capacity for taking 144 passengers for single cabin and 124 for double cabin. He also asked the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer, to establish Maintenance, Overhaul and Repair facility in Nigeria.
Speaking on the employment opportunities, he said the delivery of the first set of 13 planes would create about 8,000 jobs. Onyema thanked the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for making the delivery of the ordered plane possible.
Onyema said the airline would not pay Value Added Tax and Customs duties on the new planes, describing it as big financial relief.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who commended the airline said it was a step in the right direction.
He said, “This is a step in the right direction. The essence of the government is to support businesses which will contribute to our Gross Domestic Product. If you do it right, you will get it right.”
Sirika harped on the Single African Air Transport Market, a flagship project of the African Union Agenda 2063 to advance the liberalization of civil aviation. He tasked Nigeria air operators to key into it. He also advised new entrants to seek advice before they venture into the sector.
Speaking on the aircraft type, the President/ CEO, Commercial Business Aviation, Embraer, Mr Arjan Meija, said, “The E195-E2 tagged Profit Hunter aircraft will help Air Peace achieve its ambition of connecting not just all of Nigeria, but the whole of the African continent while feeding long-haul flights from their Lagos hub.
“Air Peace is also the first airline to configure a premium cabin with our staggered seat option. Each of the 12 Business Class seats is slightly offset from the other to give more space and privacy. There are three rows of seats arranged two-by-two at 51-inch pitch at the 124 seater aircraft. Passengers by the windows have unobstructed access to the aisle; they don’t need to awkwardly step over their seatmates or ask them to move.”
Meija also said there are large overhead bins on both sides of the aircraft, which is different from other configurations that have a narrow bin along one side of the premium cabin that transitions to a larger bin at the start of the economy cabin.
The Brazilian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ricardo de Araujo, said the feat of Air Peace was a remarkable feat for Nigeria and Africa, as Air Peace was the launch customer of the aircraft type in Africa.