After several years, Nigeria has negotiated to have Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) with Israel because of thousands of Christian pilgrims that travel to the Holy Land every year.
With the deal finally signed, Nigerian airlines are now jostling to be designated to the route by the federal government.
Deputy Managing Director and head of flight operations of Arik Air, Ado Sanusi who welcomed the BASA deal with Israel said that the airline, which is the nation’s biggest carrier has passed Israeli security audit and was the only airline in the country that has done so, adding that if designated to fly to the Holy Land, it would fly directly to the destination.
MedView Airline also indicated interest in operating the route and expressed willingness to start operations if also designated to the route.
The opening of the Nigeria-Israeli route has created opportunity for Nigerian airlines and Christians who would travel to the Holy Land on scheduled flights at cheaper rates, while it would give Nigerian airlines an opportunity to expand their international operations.
Travel expert and former President of Nigerian Cabin Crew Association, Fidel Olu Ohunayo who welcomed the deal said it was overdue, adding that the federal government was able to facilitate it now because the President is a Christian.
He however warned that Nigeria should urgently designate its domestic carriers to the route so that African major operator like Ethiopian Airline would not open its route from the Holy Land to Lome, Togo where it operates its West African hub.
Ohunayo recalled that as Nigeria delayed in designating its carrier to Brazil, Ethiopian Airline started operating Sao Paolo, Brazil, Lome route to undercut the market for Nigerian operator and as federal government designated Medview Airline to operate Singapore, Enugu route, Ethiopian has started operating the route, taking passengers from Singapore to Addis Ababa and connecting them to Enugu.
Aviation consultant and the CEO of Belujane Konsult, Chris Aligbe said with the agreement, it would become easier to travel to Israel because the route would become more open now, unlike in the past where flights from Nigeria would have to make special requests before it would be allowed to land in Israel.
Aligbe said that with open air route between the two countries, Nigerian and perhaps Israeli airlines may be designated to operate the route and this would make the fare to the Holy Land cheaper and less stressful.
He also noted that pilgrims could now travel to Israel anytime unlike now when the Christian community in Nigeria plan to travel at certain period of the year, but henceforth a family may just decide to go on pilgrimage any time in the year.
At the diplomatic level, Aligbe said that the BASA is an indication that there is a marked improvement in the relations between Nigeria and Israel.
“The BASA agreement between Nigeria and Israel shows that Israel is beginning to have more confidence in Nigeria and there are a lot of bridge building between the two countries, which was not so in the past,” Aligbe noted.
Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)