The Chairman and CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, has described the evacuation of 274 Israelis from Nigeria as historical because it is the first time any Nigeria airline will do that.
The Israelis were airlifted from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to Israel.
Israel official hinted that there are better medical facilities and personnel in their country, that is why they came to take their citizens away from Nigeria.
“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 tap 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”
“So I feel proud, I fell privileged to be part of this history and I thank God Almighty for it. We have to build from here now going forward,” Onyema said.
He also said, “This COVID-19 storm will be over someday. When it is over, we look forward to do scheduled direct flight to Israel; at least twice a week to Tel-Aviv. So I say kudos to the Buhari administration for making this come through.”
The Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Shimon Ben-Shoshan, was full of praise for the Chairman of Air Peace for his role in making the airlift a reality.
“Thank you so much for this cooperation with us. We will work together. During this operation I will work with you hand by hand. I can say that you are the darling of the Nigerian people but you are my hero. Thank you so much,” Ben-Shoshan said.
An Israeli official disclosed that they are moving their nationals out of Nigeria because of the spread of coronavirus.
“We are evacuating because of the coronavirus and the situation in Nigeria, which could become serious. You see what is happening all over the world. So for us to protect our citizens better we take them home to get a better health service. If something happens to you here you go to private hospital, not government hospital but in Israel we have government hospitals. By God’s grace we hope to have direct flight subsequently,” the official said.