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    UK Govt Lifts Some Conditions On Gambians Carrying Diplomatic Passports

    Nigeria major carrier, Air Peace said that it would connect to more destination in Nigeria, the West Coast and create thousands of new jobs with the delivery of additional brand new aircraft, Embraer E195-E2, which is the fourth of the 13 aircraft already paid for by the airline.

    This is coming as the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) exonerated the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) of alleged bribery allegation and expressed confidence in the oversight activities of the agency.

    The Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema made this known during the reception of the delivery of the 4th E195-E2 aircraft at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and disclosed that three more of the brand new aircraft would be delivered before the end of 2021 from the 13 already paid for because of issues relating with foreign exchange, as it has become very difficult to obtain dollars due to the dwindling value of the naira.

    Onyema said each aircraft delivered to the airline creates additional 1000 jobs directly and indirectly; so the 13 aircraft when fully delivered would create additional 13, 000 jobs, which include those that work with the airline, suppliers and other service providers, adding that the objective of which he established the airline was being realised because he wanted to create jobs for Nigerians.

    "Although we have paid for these aircraft, we need forex to pay for delivery payment anytime they want to bring in more aircraft. Because it is difficult to source foreign exchange, we have decided that we are going to bring three more aircraft before the end of the year. That will make it seven brand new aircraft.

    "Each of these aircraft generates almost a thousand jobs. If older aircraft are doing eight flights a day, these ones can do about 15 flights a day.

    We have increased connectivity and additional destinations. We are doing Port Harcourt, Asaba -Kano, Benin-Port Harcourt. We have started Lagos-Douala and we are going to connect to other destinations in the West and Central Africa," he said.

    Onyema said Air Peace decided to go for these new aircraft in order to give Nigerians what they deserve and make them comfortable, adding that the airline wants to make connectivity easy for Nigerians by interconnecting all cities in Nigeria so as to energize the country and provide jobs.

    The director general NCAA, Musa Nuhu during his remarks congratulated the Chairman of Air Peace for being consistent and deliberate in his plans to renew the airline's fleet with new airplanes and connect more cities in Nigeria.

    "It gladdens my heart that Nigerian airlines are not only getting new aircraft but are getting the right aircraft. The connectivity in Nigeria has improved and it is getting better.

    "These new aircraft have low maintenance and operational costs and are environmental friendly. This is the way to go. I believe with time, Air Peace will change all its fleet to newer ones," Nuhu said.

    He recalled that pre-COVID-19, 10 to 12 million passengers passed through the country's airports per annum, which only amounts to 10 percent of the country's population.

    Meanwhile, Airline Operators of Nigeria has expressed confidence in the oversight functions of NCAA.

    The airlines show support for the regulatory agency after a meeting in Abuja and dismissed the allegation that the agency officials collect bribes to give or renew Air Operators Certificate (AOC).

    The President of AON and the operator of Azman Air, Alhaji Abdulmunaf Yunusa said that although NCAA strictly regulates the airlines they know that it is to ensure that air transport is safe in Nigeria, adding that there is good relationship between the airlines and the regulatory authority.

    "We are calling on the international community to discountenance any statements that portrays our NCAA in a bad light. Most of us would want to apply for AOC today and get it tomorrow but one incident or accident may bring the entire industry down. We want to dissociate ourselves from whatever anyone must have said, it is not coming from us and it never came from us. We have confidence in the NCAA being led by Capt. Musa Nuhu," he said.

    Also affirming AON position, the Vice President of the association, Allen Onyema said that no airline should try to bully the regulatory authority because such is not done in any part of the world, adding that NCAA has ensured efficiency and safety in its interface with the airlines.

    "Nobody bullies the CAA of any country to do your bidding, it is not done. When that issue came up, we intervened as a body. We stand on the side of truth and some of you are conversant with what is happening at the CAA. I have an application to fly to the UK and it has been delayed for the past three years and no one at NCAA has asked me for money.

    The truth, the NCAA does not ask us for bribe. If someone asks you for bribe, you should be able to provide the evidence. NCAA might have its limitations in some areas but it is not a corrupt agency. The international community is stigmatising this country and we are also stigmatizing ourselves and it is not fair," Onyema said.

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