…as airline launches three weekly flights.
Nigeria and West Africa’s biggest carrier, Air Peace, on Monday commenced commercial flights into Makurdi, Benue State in the North Central Nigeria as part of its route expansion drive.
Air Peace is the only commercial airline operating Lagos-Makurdi flight at the moment amidst excitement from the state government and indigenes of the state.
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The state governor, Samuel Ortom was on ground to receive the inaugural flight which took off from the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos by 7:00 a.m via the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja to Makurdi.
The flight P47440 arrived Makurdi Airport by 9:15am to a ceremonial water shower by officials of the Aerodrome Rescue and Firefighting unit of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Also on ground to receive the inaugural flight was a former Governor of the state and Minister of Special Duties, Senator George Akume and the Airport Manager, Mrs. Comfort Ogbuagwu.
Daily Trust reports that Chairman of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema had earlier signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government for the commencement of the flight operations.
This however culminated into the new service which would be operated three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays connecting passengers from Lagos to Makurdi via Abuja.
Ground Operations Manager of Air Peace, Mr. Ayodeji Adeyemi who represented the Chairman at the inaugural flight described the flight as “a historic feat as no airline currently operates flights from Lagos to Makurdi.”
Adeyemi said the decision to operate to Makurdi was “borne out of our persisting original vision to interconnect various cities across Nigeria, thereby fostering unity and promoting impactful economic relations.”
The Makurdi route, he stated has been on popular demand by Nigerians, adding, “As a socially sensitive and responsive airline, we’re constantly reviewing our route network vis-à-vis public needs while considering strategic ways of expanding it to provide immense value to Nigerians.”
The airline promised that the new route “will be optimally serviced, and Nigerians will benefit exceedingly.”
Adeyemi further said the new route would crystallize in employment opportunities for the indigenes of the state as the airline was primarily set up “to fill unemployment gaps in the country” while soliciting the continued support and cooperation of all relevant stakeholders for the airline to keep accomplishing the lofty feats.
Governor Ortom commended the airline’s management for the opportunity to have commercial air transport to Benue State, saying the development would boost the state’s economy.
He added that having a commercial flight to the state would open it up for foreign direct investment (FDI) as the fear of travelling to the state by road has been completely removed.
“I particularly thank the Air Peace Chairman for accepting this partnership and we are hopeful this would be fruitful. It will also ease the travel burden of our people,” he said.
Also, Senator George Akume who was aboard the return flight to Abuja noted that there have been several unsuccessful attempts in the past to ensure regular flights into Makurdi.
He said the feat which he attributed to the doggedness of the Governor would enhance economic activities in the state.
Some of the passengers who spoke with our correspondent said they have eagerly awaited the flight service to open up the state to more economic activities.