Aviation Minister Moves To Resolve Slot Issues With UK Authorities – thewill news media

January 29, (THEWILL) – The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo has held discussions with the UK Department for Transport on how Nigeria’s major carrier, Air Peace can obtain favourable slot allocation to enable it to operate non-stop flights to London.
Air Peace had earlier received approval to operate to Gatwick Airport in London from Lagos but was given adhoc slots, which are not suitable for scheduled flight service; so, it is demanding suitable slot allocation, which will enable the airline to have fixed and consistent departure time and arrival in a normal schedule flight service, as slot allows planned landing and take-off time in busy airports.
The Minister of Aviation in meeting with UK Authorities tabled this problem, which is receiving attention and the Minister said that he would not rest until this problem is resolved so that Air Peace, a Nigerian carrier, will start operation in London, as the Lagos-London route remains one of the most lucrative routes from Nigeria and for about 10 years, no Nigerian airline has been reciprocating flights to that destination, currently dominated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways.
A statement from the Ministry of Aviation explained that since securing its authorisation to fly into the UK, after satisfying all the requirements, the issue of slot allocation at Gatwick Airport has been the major obstacle preventing the airline from commencing the direct flight into London.
Though the officials of the Department for Transport at the meeting made it known that the government of the UK had no authority over the allocation of slots at the eight primary airports in the UK, they agreed to raise the concern of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the relevant authorities on the three major issues presented on behalf of Air Peace Airline, which include the staggering of departure time; restrictive turn around time; and approval for the 2024 summer schedule.
The statement said that it is hoped that the fallout of the meeting would achieve its purpose of enabling Air Peace to commence its flight operations into the United Kingdom, which Nigerians have been yearning for.
During the visit, the Minister met with NORSE Atlantic Airways, a long-haul carrier in partnership with Air Peace aimed at taking Nigerian airline’s passengers to farther destinations out of London and he reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to always support Nigeria’s airlines to grow and flourish, breaking new grounds for them to remain in business.
In discussions with the management of NORSE Atlantic Airways led by its CEO, Mr Ben Boiling, Keyamo gave credence to the spread of Air Peace on regional and international routes and stated that NORSE Atlantic Airways’ partnership with Air Peace Airline is the right step in the right direction.
He emphasised that one of his Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and presidential directive was ensuring the growth and development of Nigeria’s domestic airlines, as aviation is one of the key components of the Renewed Hope Agenda trust of the current administration under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in reviving Nigeria’s economy.
Mr Boiling on his part thanked the Minister for being part of the discussions, saying that NORSE Atlantic Airways was ready to start the partnership with Air Peace the moment the final authorisation was granted to the Nigerian carrier for the commencement of direct flights into Gatwick Airport in London from Lagos, Nigeria.
Nigeria and the UK have a long Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA), which enables two UK-based carriers, BA and Virgin Atlantic to operate 21 flights a week to Lagos and Abuja but no Nigerian carrier is reciprocating any of the flight allocations.
Nigerian aviation officials from the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), were in London to discuss with the officials of the Department for Transport of the UK how to surmount the issue of slot allocation to Air Peace to fly into Gatwick Airport in London. Also at the meeting was the top executive management team of Air Peace led by its Chief Operating Officer, Mrs Oluwatoyin Olajide and Executive Director, Ms Nnenna Onyema.
Anthony Awunor, is a business correspondent who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Linguistics (UNILAG). He is also an alumnus of the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria Kaduna State. He lives in Lagos.
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