The Nigerian airline Air Peace has signed a multi-million dollar agreement with aircraft manufacturers, The Boeing Company, for the purchase of 10 brand new B737 Max aircraft.
The agreement was signed on Thursday by the US consulate in Lagos by the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema and Boeing Sales Director for West and Central Africa, Larry Tolliver.
During the ceremony, Onyema said that each of the Max B737 aircraft cost $ 113 million, but Boeing was merciful to reduce it to an undisclosed amount for Air Peace after a series of negotiations.
He said that the purchase of the aircraft, the newest by Boeing, was financed by Fidelity Bank and that they would be used for international activities of Air Peace.
According to him, the addition of the new aircraft, which will soon be delivered by Boeing, will expand the Air Peace fleet to 37 aircraft in less than four years.
Onyema said: "We have just signed an order for 10 B737 aircraft from Boeing and we are interested in creating jobs for our people because one of the aircraft can create 500 jobs.
"We try to curb uncertainty by creating jobs for our people, and Air Peace currently employs about 3,000 people and I believe this is part of our contribution to national development."
He thanked the government led by President Muhammadu Buhari for supporting Nigerian airlines, noting that the government's anti-corruption campaign had improved the confidence of the international community in Nigerian companies.
Onyema, however, appealed to the government to find ways to establish local refineries to reduce the high cost of aviation fuels affecting the operations of airlines in the country.
The US Consul General, John Bray, also said that the agreement between the two companies would deepen the relationship between Nigeria and the US.
Bray said it was a win-win situation for both countries because the deal would create about 3,000 jobs in Nigeria, while about 5,000 jobs would be created in the manufacturing sector in the US.
For its part, Tolliver said that the B373 Max plane was the fastest plane manufactured by Boeing and consumed about 40 percent less fuel than other Boeing aircraft currently used by Air Peace.
He said the plane was also attractive to passengers because of the modern facilities on board; emphasizing that Boeing will support Air Peace with spare parts for training and maintenance as part of the agreement.
Speaking about the financing of the tender, Fidelity Bank's Managing Director, Nnamdi Okonkwo, said that Air Peace had proven its integrity in previous loans that the bank had given the airline.
He said: "We are proud to have Air Air as our customer, because the airline is honest and always prepaid in previous aircraft purchases financed by Fidelity Bank.
"I know some airlines have dropped in the past because of the huge debt of banks, but I can tell you that Air Peace owes no one, and that is because of the caution of the airline's management."
The news agency of Nigeria reports that the federal government has given permission to Air Peace to start flights to six international destinations, namely London, Dubai, Sharjah, Guangzhou-China, Mumbai and Johannesburg in the coming months.