By Kelvin Osa Okunbor
Air Peace has evacuated about 274 Israelis from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to Israel’s major city, Tel-Aviv.
The flight, which airlifted 65 passengers from Lagos and 209 passengers from Abuja was operated by Air Peace Boeing 777-300 with registration number 5N-BWI.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema described the flight as historic because it is the first time Nigeria and Israel would have a direct flight and expressed hope that subsequently the two countries would have scheduled direct flight between Lagos and Tel-Aviv.
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“It is a historic day for both Nigeria and Israel. History has been made today. 60 years of diplomatic relations, no direct flight has been conducted between Nigeria and Israel till today. So this is the first time Nigeria and Israel will have direct air connectivity. So it is a historic day and it is going to portend greater things that will come. Both countries have a lot to gain by having direct flights. Nigeria is a land of huge potential, which Israel may be willing to tape into, while Nigeria will want to tap into science and technology, which Israel is known for.
“I really want to thank the federal government of Nigeria for making this possible. Previous administrations were unable to pull this through, but this government did it. We have a compassionate government; that I can tell you. It is difficult to get flight permits even during this critical period of emergencies from other countries, but Nigeria did not waste a second to approve this flight. The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika approved the request the moment it was presented to him. All the heads of aviation agencies gave their support, which made the flight possible. So it is the federal government that made the evacuation possible,” Onyema said.