… As Abuja Airport witnesses Easter Celebration traffic upsurge***
Nigerian carrier Air Peace says it will deploy its wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft for its domestic operations on the Port Harcourt-Abuja and Abuja-Port Harcourt routes on Good Friday and Easter Monday.
The airline’s Corporate Communications Manager, Mr Chris Iwarah, announced the development on Thursday in Lagos.
Iwarah noted that Air Peace recently acquired four Boeing 777 aircraft for its long-haul operations to Sharjah, Dubai, Johannesburg, London, Houston, Guangzhou and Mumbai.
According to him, three of the wide-body aircraft have so far been delivered to the airline in readiness for its soon-to-start international operations.
He said the carrier decided to deploy its Boeing 777 aircraft at Easter to “give Nigerians and the travelling public a taste of the luxury to expect on its international routes starting soon.
“The deployment of our beautiful big birds, the Boeing 777 on our domestic routes this Easter begins with our Port Harcourt-Abuja and Abuja-Port Harcourt services on Easter Friday and Monday.
“Our decision to deploy our wide-body aircraft on the domestic routes has huge financial implications for us.
“However, we are pleased to honour our pledge never to spare anything in giving our esteemed customers an exceptional feel of air travel experience,” he said in a statement.
He said Air Peace would be announcing a firm date for the commencement of the airline’s international operations soon.
“We plan to operate long-haul flight services to Sharjah, Dubai, Johannesburg, London, Houston, Guangzhou and Mumbai.
“We are set and ready to give Nigerians, Africans and the flying public a reliable alternative on our chosen international routes.
“But we are pleased to give our loyal customers on the domestic routes a foretaste of our long-haul offering.
“It sure will be a memorable experience starting with our Port Harcourt-Abuja and Abuja-Port Harcourt services on Good Friday and Easter Monday,” Iwarah said.
In the meantime, the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Thursday witnessed increased traffic as large number of passengers traveled to different parts of the country for Easter celebration.
All flights from Abuja to other routes were fully booked as at Wednesday afternoon while on Thursday, the booking and check-in counters of most of the airlines were crowded with many passengers rushing to board their flights.
The most crowded counter was that of Air Peace where many passengers were seen struggling to either check in to board or trying to get tickets.
It was observed that passengers who did not book ahead or make reservations early were unable to buy tickets.
An official of an airline, who pleaded anonymity, said that flights to all routes for Thursday and Friday had been fully booked.
The official also said that Easter period was always a peak period for all airlines just like the Christmas season, adding that many people that intended to travel without booking were stranded.
He said: ”as you can see, there are many passengers who just came to airport today hoping to buy ticket on the counter to travel but cannot get it.
“Easter is usually like this because in airline business, there is peak season where we do make bumper sales of ticket.
“There are people who have made it a routine to always travel during Easter because of holidays on Friday and Monday and it doesn’t matter whether there is money or not.
“Price hike is also relative because prices of tickets vary from airline to airline and routes.
“Therefore, I cannot say there is price hike or no price hike.
“Cancellation and delays are normal with airlines but as at today, there has not been any cancellation but few airlines have announced delays today,” he said.
A passenger, Mr Mike Okoli, said that he had planned his trip and purchased his ticket for over two weeks to avoid the usual rush during the period.
Okoli said he bought his ticket for N35,000 to travel to Port Harcourt to celebrate Easter with his family.
According to him, Easter is a time of sober reflection for those who are Christians because they believe that Christ came, suffered and died for the sake of humanity.
“Christians must use this period to pray for God’s mercy upon us and the nation and reflect on the love of God upon humanity,” he said.
Another traveler, Bola Awosile, a civil servant, said she was traveling to Lagos to attend a wedding, urging Nigerians to pray for better days for the nation.
Awosile called on the leadership of the nation to work for better Nigeria and shun corruption, adding that God would only answer prayers of those who do the right thing.
“I am worried about my country because many of our leaders do things without the fear of God.
“Even as we pray for God’s help, we must be seen to be doing the right thing before God can answer us.
“We must reflect on the love of Christ for us that he died for our sins which is the essence of Easter celebration,” she added.