Air Peace on Sunday evacuated about 274 Israelis from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to Tel-Aviv, Israel.
The flight, operated with the airline’s Boeing 777-300, left Lagos with 65 passengers and airlifted 209 others from Abuja.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said the flight was historic, adding that it was the first time Nigeria and Israel would have a direct flight.
Onyema, who in January disclosed that the airline had been given rights to fly to Israel, said it was hoped that both countries would have direct scheduled flights in the shortest time possible.
COVID-19: Air Peace, on Sunday, March 29, 2020, evacuated over 200 Israelis from Nigeria to Tel Aviv. This flight is historic, as it's the first time a Nigerian airline operated a direct flight to Israel.#BetterDealWithAirPeace #lockdown #Coronovirustruth pic.twitter.com/MKm7PghLiR
— Air Peace (@flyairpeace) March 30, 2020
He said, “It is a historic day for both Nigeria and Israel. History has been made today.
“In 60 years of diplomatic relations, no direct flight has been conducted between Nigeria and Israel up until today.
“This is the first time Nigeria and Israel will have direct air connectivity.”
He added, “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 tap into, while Nigeria will want to tap into science and technology, which Israel is known for.”
Commending the Federal Government for making the flight possible, Onyema said it was difficult to get flight permits during critical periods of emergency from other countries, but Nigeria did not waste a second to approve the flight to Tel Aviv.
Onyema said, “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.”
He said the Israeli government also gave its support and allowed for the first time a Nigerian airline to operate a direct flight to the Israel, adding that it was a good development for both countries’ diplomatic relations.
The Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Shimon Ben-Shoshan, said he was happy about the successful evacuation of his country’s citizens from Nigeria.