Air Peace Nigeria airlines yesterday signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Boeing, a leading aircraft manufacturing company, to acquire 10 new Boeing 737-MAX aircraft for its international operations.
The biggest bid submitted by an airline in West Africa is to launch Air Peace into the league of major carriers in the world, parading some of the most attractive, efficient and state-of-the-art wide body aircraft globally.
The historic agreement was signed at a brief ceremony, held at the United States’ Consul General’s Resident in Lagos.Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) yesterday reopened the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA)’s runway in Abuja for operations, following a temporary closure on Wednesday.
The runway was closed about 10pm Wednesday due to an incident involving a Gulfstream 4 aircraft being operated by Skybird that overshot the runway, while landing and consequently got stuck on the Runway End Safety Area (RESA).However, U.S. Consul General in Lagos, John Bray, said the Air Peace-Boeing deal was a win-win for all parties and part of efforts at strengthening partnership between the United States and Nigeria.
Bray noted that while the 10 aircraft would provide some 3,000 new jobs in Nigeria, their manufacturing would attract about 5,000 jobs in America. “When you put these together, that is a lot of jobs and exactly what this deal is about,” he said.
Speaking, Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said it was another feat for the airlines, as the first to parade a Boeing737-MAX in the West African region. Onyema said the huge investment would create more jobs for Nigerians, because operating a 737 jet requires about 500 workers, adding that Boeing737-MAX was chosen based on its fuel and maintenance efficiency and incentives from the manufacturer worth millions of dollars.
He said: “The incentives were in form of training, spare parts and other supports for Air Peace to have smooth transition into 737-MAX operation. What they have given Air Peace may not have been given to other airlines. “The least price of this aircraft is about N40.7 billion, about $113 million, but Air Peace is not paying anything near it. For Air Peace to buy 10 737-MAX aircraft, then you know that they have done something great for us.”The new addition, once delivered, will bring Air Peace fleet capacity to 37 air planes, among which are about four Boeing 777 aircraft and six Embraer 145 jets.
Onyema encouraged the industry stakeholders and regulators to support the company in its journey.Boeing’s Sales Director for West and Central Africa, Larry Tolliver, said 737-MAX is about efficiency, reliability and customer appeal.He said the aircraft is 20 per cent more efficient than the classics and that explains why the aircraft remains the fastest selling among its products.