By Tare Youdeowei LAGOS — Air Peace’s plan to cover more local routes and operate international flights has received a huge boost with the delivery of the new aircraft it recently acquired. Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Chief Allen Onyema told reporters in Lagos that the airline embarked on the acquisition of more aircraft to service local market and international routes it recently got approval for he also said that domestic airline industry is not getting the right support it need from government. He lameted that domestic airline industry do more for Nigeria than the foreign airlines. “We have been designated to fly into Dakar, Senegal; Accra, Ghana; Niamey, Niger; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Douala, Cameroun; China; Dubai; India, and South Africa. “One of the new aircraft has the capacity to take 142 passengers, while the other can take 126 passengers. In our fleet, we now have nine Boeing and one Dornier aircraft. Some of the aircraft will be deployed for the regional routes. “We have visited the civil aviation and relevant authorities in these countries and plans are at an advanced stage. We will soon announce our commencement dates on these routes, but one thing we want to assure our passengers is that we will put in our cockpit the best of pilots,” Onyema said. Air Peace, he said, was ready to deepen its investment in the nation’s aviation industry as well as create more jobs for Nigerians. He, however, regretted that the difficulty in sourcing foreign exchange and aviation fuel was straining the operations of airlines in the country. Onyema commended the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika for working tirelessly to ease the operational challenges of airlines in the country, saying local flight operators needed more public support to survive. He said “The domestic airline industry is not getting the right support it deserves from the government as they would rather do everything possible to support foreign airlines. “We do more for the country than the foreign airlines. If the foreign airlines face the kind of challenges that we face for 72 hours, they will all pack out of Nigeria. The government must rise up and protect local airlines,” he added. Soof the challenges facing local airlines according to Onyema include forex and fuel scarcity, high premium on insurance, double taxation to regulatory and airport agencies, and Nigerian Customs Services’ failure to comply with government’s directives on VAT exemption on aircraft spare part. The Air Peace boss also said his airline lost over 260 million recently when Customs refused to release imported engine parts, thus forcing the grounding of that particular aircraft for weeks. He lamented that asking passengers to pay airfares as low as N12,500 on some routes by some airlines was absurd. Saying that such fares were unrealistic and was necessitate by competition which could force such airlines into breaching the safety of the aircraft, the crew and the lives of passengers.