Nigeria’s Air Peace to lease Norse Boeing 787s to commence London services  

Norse Atlantic Airways

Nigerian-based airline Air Peace is preparing to start its long-awaited service linking Lagos with London on March 30, 2024. Without available aircraft of its own to start services on the route, the carrier will be using leased Boeing 787-9s supplied by Norse Atlantic Airways (Norse) 

The new route will see Air Peace operate from Lagos’ Murtallah Muhammed International Airport (LOS) to London-Gatwick Airport (LGW) four times per week commencing at the start of the IATA northern summer schedule period.  

According to Air Peace, the agreement with the UK-based arm of Norwegian carrier Norse is a wet-lease deal that will last for two months initially, but with the possibility of an extension. The airlines have also disclosed that they are in exploratory talks about further ways in which Norse aircraft could be sued to expedite Air Peace’s ambitious long-haul expansion plans. 

The start of London services also marks the entry of Air Peace into the highly competitive and lucrative market between Nigeria and Europe market. British Airways currently flies daily to Abuja (ABV) using Boeing 777s, and Lagos (LOS) using 787-10s, both from London Heathrow. Virgin Atlantic also flies a daily flight to Lagos using Airbus A350-1000s. 

With the commencement of its new service, Air Peace will become the only Nigerian carrier serving the London market. Much of the current passenger traffic between Nigerian airports and London currently routes via a third connecting city. Out of around 362,000 passengers traveling between Nigeria to London in 2023, 46.8% traveled indirectly, connecting via cities such as Doha, Casablanca, and Addis Ababa.  

Air Peace

Having initially desired slots at London-Heathrow Airport (LHR), long seen as London’s premier air gateway, Air Peace’s Chairman and Chief Executive Allen Onyema told Nigeria’s Arise TV the airline had been forced to “accept” Gatwick as an alternative to Heathrow, as it was unable to secure commercially visible slots at its first-choice airport.  

The flights will initially operate using Norse-owned slots, as Air Peace was unable to secure any slots for the service to start in summer of 2024 but wanted it to commence as soon as possible. 

During the interview, Mr. Onyema went on to state that the slot allocation system at UK airports was “biased” against new entrant carriers, arguing that the existing bilateral air services agreement should guarantee Air Peace reciprocal access to London’s “primary” airport in the same manner that British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are permitted access to the two main international gateways in Nigeria.  

“After some time, I saw that they wanted to frustrate us,” said Onyema. “So, I said, let us go anywhere, even if they wanted us to go to Scotland. We took Gatwick, which was not really our choice. In the long run, we saw some good in it,” he added. 

According to ch-aviation, Air Peace currently operates a fleet of seven Boeing 737-300s, five 737-500s, a single 777-200ER, two 777-300s, eight Embraer 145 twinjets and five ERJ195-E2s. The carrier also wet leases several narrowbody jets as required.  

Anna Zvereva / Flickr

Norse has a current fleet of ten Boeing 787-9s (six of which are on the UK register and four on the Norwegian register). Up to six of these ten are used on the company’s own scheduled services linking Norway, the UK, Italy, Germany, Greece, and France with destinations in the US and Caribbean. The carrier also serves Bangkok (BKK) in Thailand from Oslo (OSL).  

Its remaining aircraft are used for ad-hoc charters and ACMI operations, such as a much-publicized charter to Antarctica as reported by AeroTime in November 2023.  


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