Having recently secured its UK Third Country Operator (TCO) authorisation, Air Peace (P4, Lagos) has demanded access to London Heathrow, citing the reciprocity principle in the bilateral air services agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

"It took seven years for them [the UK] to come and do the audit. Now we have got the approval. The next thing is slots, and they are telling us to go to London Stansted or take London Gatwick. I'm not going to Stansted or Gatwick. You come to the primary airport in Nigeria, and by BASA, you enjoy the two primary airports. So, you will give me your own primary airport. It must be Heathrow or nothing," Chairman Allen Onyema told The Whistler newspaper.

The 1988 agreement authorises designated Nigerian carriers to fly to London - without specifying an airport - and Manchester International while designated British carriers are allowed to fly to Abuja and Lagos. Currently, British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) flies daily to each of the Nigerian airports and Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) flies daily to Lagos. Both UK carriers depart from Heathrow.

The disagreement over Heathrow access caused a diplomatic spat in 2011 when Nigeria threatened to withdraw the permission for British airlines after Arik Air was unable to get slots at Heathrow and refused to serve another airport in the London metro area. The dispute was eventually resolved and Arik Air continued to serve Heathrow through 2017, when it cut the route amidst serious liquidity issues.

Slots at Heathrow are managed by Airport Coordination Limited, an independent organisation, and the British government cannot enforce slot allocation to a specific carrier at the notoriously slot-restricted hub.

Air Peace is currently the only Nigerian airline certified to operate to the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority confirmed when contacted by ch-aviation. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has only authorised business charter operator ANAP Jets (AJP, Lagos).

Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, told local media that OmniBlu Aviation and United Nigeria Airlines were also authorised by the UK, but the CAA denied this, saying that no other applications except Air Peace were pending. The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development designated United Nigeria Airlines for routes to London, Amsterdam Schiphol, Rome Fiumicino, Dubai International, Houston Intercontinental, and Dublin International. The carrier, which only operates E145s, will have to secure authorisation before it can launch any of those services.