Michael Freeman, Israeli ambassador to Nigeria, says direct flights from the country to Israel will begin on April 20, 2023.
Freeman, in an interview with NAN on Saturday, said the flight operations would be run twice weekly by Air Peace airline from Nigeria to Tel Aviv.
The Israeli envoy said the development was possible due to the support of the Nigeria’s government.
“On April 20, we will be starting direct air links between Israel and Nigeria; there will be twice weekly flights from Lagos, Abuja, and Tel Aviv with Air Peace airline,” Freeman said.
“This would not have been possible without efforts by the current administration. The ministers of aviation and foreign affairs were instrumental in making this happen.
“Now, it is important for us to make it clear that this government made this happen and we have to understand the positive differences these flights will make.
“At the moment, if you plan to fly to Israel, you have to go through Ethiopian, Turkish, or British airlines and experience 13 hours of delays overseas, whereas a direct flight is five hours and 20 minutes.
“The direct flights will do a number of things; especially, they will bring our countries closer together. “
Freeman also assured that the Israeli mission in Nigeria would work closely with the federal government to deepen diplomatic ties between the two nations.
He said Israel with its holy land and 3,000 years of history had been playing host to Christian, Muslim, and Judaism pilgrimage.
The envoy added that business relations between both countries would also improve since Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and Israel is known for thriving businesses.
According to Freeman, the air transportation link will strengthen business opportunities, increase tourism potential, and enhance foreign currency flow to Nigeria as well.
PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES BETWEEN NIGERIA AND ISRAEL
“There are lots of areas where Israel and Nigeria can work together. I think the most important is in the area of human capital development,” he said.
“45 percent of Israel’s GDP comes from human capital and high-tech innovation. It is noteworthy that Israel is a country with no natural resources, but relies on human capital.
“In other areas such as agriculture, I believe that Israel and Nigeria can work together to create millions of jobs.
“Another area is homeland security. We can talk about education, health, and high-tech.
“New programmes will be developed by Nigerian innovators given programme mentorship. Nigeria is a country with potential that I have ever seen.”
Freeman said Israel — a country with huge potential — is eager to share its knowledge and expertise with Nigeria.
He also expressed confidence that the incoming leadership in Nigeria “under Bola Tinubu will improve the lives” of citizens.
AIR PEACE CONFIRMS NIGERIA-ISRAEL FLIGHTS
Corroborating Freeman’s disclosure on the development, Air Peace, Nigeria’s flag carrier, said scheduled flights operations to Israel would commence next Thursday.
In a tweet on Sunday morning, the airline announced bookings for flights from Nigeria to Tel Aviv.
“Are you ready for Israel kick-off? Save the date — April 20, 2023. Direct, non-stop flight connectivity to Tel Aviv from Lagos and Abuja,” Air Peace tweeted.
Last year, the airline had announced it readiness to operate direct flights to the Middle East nation.