The management of Air Peace says it has taken delivery of its first new Embraer 195-E2 aircraft from Brazil, expecting 30 more aircraft.
Receiving the aircraft, which landed at about 2:30 p.m at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Thursday, Mr Allen Onyema, Chairman, Air Peace, thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for making delivery of the plane possible.
Onyema called on the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer, to establish maintenance, overhaul and repair (MRO) facility in Nigeria.
He said Air Peace was the first African carrier to take delivery of the new Embraer 195-E2 aircraft type with 30 requests, including 13 firm orders and 17 purchase right orders, coming second to Lufthansa globally, which ordered 35.
Onyema said the airline would not pay Valued Added Tax (VAT) and Customs duties on the new planes, describing it as big financial relief.
He also thanked the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, for his tireless support and encouragement to Nigerian airlines.
The chairman said that it was in response to his challenge to airlines to acquire new planes that spurred Air Peace to order for the new aircraft.
He also thanked the National Assembly Committees on Aviation for facilitating the passage of the waiver to the airlines, adding that the 13 aircraft would create about eight thousand jobs for Nigerians.
Speaking, the Minister of Aviation described the delivery of the aircraft as a right step in the right direction.
Sirika said the bold step by the airlines aligned with the Federal Government’s road map for the aviation sector.
He said the use of newer aeroplanes by Nigerian carriers would change the dynamics in airlines’ profitability and sustainability by driving down maintenance and fueling cost.
Commenting, Mr Arjan Meija, President/Chief Executive Officer, Commercial Business Aviation of Embraer, said: “The E195-E2 tagged: “Profit Hunter” aircraft would help Air Peace to 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 the 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,” he added.
Meija also said there were large overhead bins on both sides of the aircraft, different from other configurations that have a narrow bin along one side of the premium cabin that transition to a larger bin at the start of the economy cabin.
“The new 124-seat E2s complement the airline’s eight 50-seat E145s flyings with Air Peace Hopper.
“The Embraer fleet will create greater regional and domestic connectivity from the carrier’s Lagos hub.
“Apart from the 13 195-E2s on firm order, Air Peace has purchase rights for 17 more of the aircraft according to Embraer,” he said.
In his remarks, the Brazilian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ricardo Guerra de Araujo, said the feat achieved by Air Peace was remarkable for Nigeria and Africa.
The ambassador also expressed optimism that Air Peace would consider direct flight between Nigeria and Brazil.
Speaking on behalf of Governors of Ondo, Anambra, Delta and Benue, Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo, urged Air Peace to rethink on how to create regional hubs for air transport in the country.
Obaseki described air transportation as a catalyst that would push for economic integration of the states in Nigeria and West Africa sub-region.
He called on other operators in the industry to consider ways of achieving affordable fares for air travellers.