On January 28, 2021, the trajectory of Nigeria’s aviation sector, and in fact that of continental Africa, experienced a stride of no mean feat as West Africa’s foremost airline, Air Peace, in its characteristic show of strength, blazed the trail by taking delivery of the first ever E195-E2 aircraft in the whole of Africa, from the Brazilian aerospace conglomerate, Embraer.
The aircraft, nicknamed Profit-hunter, with registration number 5N-BYF and the name Helen Ekwusi Onyema, is the first of 13 E195-E2s which Air Peace had ordered in 2019 from the Brazilian aircraft manufacturing giant, with purchase rights for 17 of the same aircraft model, totaling 30 jets which will, over time, dominate Nigerian and West African skies, connecting various cities and solving the air transportation challenge of Africans.
The airline is expecting the second E195-E2 jet in February 2021.
The acquisition of E195-E2 aircraft is historic for two major reasons- it signals the outset of a new era for Nigeria’s aviation, an era of Nigerian skies being littered with brand new airplanes as Air Peace’s principal goal is to replace its current Boeing 737 fleet with 30 brand new E195-E2s, which offer a superior travel experience to the passengers. Another reason the acquisition is historic is that it will create a new flying experience for Nigerians and Africans generally.
With this brand new aircraft and others lined up for delivery at specific times this year, Air Peace is perpetuating its position as one of the vibrant leaders in Africa’s aviation space, while giving Nigeria ample representation in the global aviation terrain.
When people talk about the E195-E2 aircraft, some tend to confuse it with the ERJ 145, probably because both are Embraer jets. But they are very different, and Air Peace already has 8 ERJs which the airline uses to service certain underserved and unserved routes both locally and regionally. The ERJ 145s are 50-seat capacity jets operating under the subsidiary ‘Air Peace Hopper’.
The E195-E2, on the other hand, is a 124-seat capacity aircraft, comparable in size to your regular Boeing 737. It has a dual configuration of 112 Economy seats and 12 Business Class seats in a staggered design that offers enhanced comfort, greater legroom, and increased privacy.
The Chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, during the aircraft reception ceremony in Abuja, described the E195 as “a state-of-the-art aeronautical machine with all the trappings of comfort and luxury”.
Air Peace is the launch customer for the E195-E2 in Africa, an aircraft that has been described by aviators and aviation aficionados as the newest, most efficient, and most comfortable aircraft in the segment.
The Nigerian airline is also the global launch customer for Embraer’s innovative premium staggered seating configuration. Air Peace, since flagging off scheduled commercial operations in 2014, has never relented in making large inroads which put Nigeria’s aviation sector in the limelight with its consistent milestones in form of aircraft acquisition, route expansion, strategic CSR interventions, etc. Considering the consistency of Air Peace’s landmark achievements, Nigeria may not be far from earning the enviable title of ‘King of African Aviation’. This is not easy to attain but with Air Peace’s sustained footprints, it is feasible.
Acknowledging how Air Peace’s acquisition of brand new aircraft is in tandem with Federal Government’s plans, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, described the aircraft delivery as a step in the right direction.
Sirika said it was in line with the federal government’s roadmap for the aviation industry, adding that the use of brand new aircraft by Nigerian carriers will bolster airlines’ profitability as it would reduce operating costs, especially costs of maintenance and fuel.
Air Peace’s decision to invest in the E195s was taken after duly reviewing the aircraft’s features vis-à-vis the airline’s fleet expansion concerns as well as its route expansion plans, and how the aircraft can help drive sustainability and profitability.
Onyema said: “The E195-E2 is the perfect aircraft to expand our domestic and regional operations. We are aware of the aircraft’s impressive economic performance as well as its unique configuration, the major reasons we placed an order for this aircraft. It is also a historic feat as Air Peace will be the first to operate this aircraft model in the whole of Africa.
“The E195-E2 aircraft will further help us actualise our ambition of connecting not just the whole of Nigeria, but the entire African continent while feeding long-haul flights from our Lagos hub. The acquisition will enable us to deliver on our ‘no-city-left-behind’ initiative, which is underpinned by our goal to reduce the air transportation burden of Africans”.
The airline’s Chief Operating Officer, Oluwatoyin Olajide, explained the rationale behind the acquisition of E195-E2: “Now, why have we introduced the E195-E2? The E2 is a brand new aircraft, super-efficient aircraft; it is an aircraft that is for the future and even now, not just for the future.
“This is because you are going to save a lot of money on the operating cost, you have savings on fuel and you know fuel cost is very high in Nigeria. Those kinds of aircraft coming into the country will be able to help you lower your operating cost. The performance is awesome.
“A lot of Nigerians that are scared of travelling by air, this is the plane for you. Because when you are inside this aircraft, you will feel nothing. That peace which we represent, this is the plane that is going to give you the height of it because it is just super. The interior is excellent.
“The staggered seats that we have in the Business Class are one to die for. Not just that, even in the Business Class, there is an innovation with the table that the passengers use, it has an Ipad holder”.
Embraer’s President and CEO, Francisco Gomes Neto, described the new aircraft type acquired by Air Peace: “The E2s are really fantastic airplanes. Your engineering people are going to love the technology. Your crews are going to love flying them. Your accountants are going to love the operating economics. And your passengers are going to love the stunning interior, especially those sitting in business class with the staggered seat layout. That innovation is an industry first, and we’re so pleased that Air Peace will showcase it to the world and, of course, that you’re the first airline in Africa to fly an E-195-E2”.
The delivery of E195-E2 is a game-changing industry milestone and an outstanding achievement for Air Peace, an airline that stands for Nigerians and has shown reliability across all fronts.
Olisa, S. wrote in from Lagos