NIGERIAN airline Air Peace made its historic direct flight from Lagos to the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James, on Monday.
It is the first non-stop flight to the island from Nigeria and is aimed at exploring the possibility of direct round-trip commercial airlift between the two destinations.
The flight, with 132 passengers, including Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama, his wife Sulola Onyeama, and 19 crew members, arrived at approximately 10:15 pm. The 12-hour trip was arranged by tour company Nigerians Travel Too in partnership with Air Peace.
A high-level delegation led by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Kamina Johnson Smith and Transport and Mining Minister Robert Montague was on hand to greet the passengers.
Senator Johnson Smith, in welcoming the Nigerians to Jamaican shores, said the flight will help to boost trade relations between the two countries and also strengthen their relationship, through tourism, air services and culture.
“It is a true… meeting of south to south cooperation,” she said.
She noted that in addition to the economic benefits, there is opportunity to build on the historical and cultural ties between the countries.
For his part, Minister Montague said that Nigeria and Jamaica will work to complete an air service agreement that has been in the pipeline and is aimed at improving air linkages between the two countries as well as explore opportunities in manufacturing and transportation import.
“We feel good that we have welcomed our first direct flight from Nigeria and it is going to be the start of many more good things,” he noted.
In his remarks, Onyeama described the visit as the “dawn of a new relationship” between Nigeria and Jamaica.
He said he looks forward to further cementing relations in untapped areas of economics, culture, education and sports.
“We believe that this is the beginning of a wonderful future of concretising the very long and rich cultural ties between the two countries. For us, Jamaicans are family, the same blood flows through our veins; for us this is something of a homecoming.
“We hope that we will now establish regular travel between Nigeria and Jamaica as we really want to promote and strengthen the people-to-people arrangements between two countries,” Onyeama said.