Air Peace (P4, Lagos) has confirmed that it will launch its long-touted direct services to the United Kingdom on March 30, 2024, through a wet-lease deal with Norse Atlantic (United Kingdom) (Z0, London Gatwick). The British offshoot of Norse Atlantic Airways (N0, Oslo Gardermoen) will operate four weekly rotations from London Gatwick to Lagos using its B787-9s.

The contract has been signed for an initial two months with a possibility of an extension. The airlines said they will discuss opportunities for a long-term, strategic partnership that would facilitate Air Peace's expansion.

It will be Air Peace's first foray into Europe and currently the only service connecting Nigeria and the United Kingdom operated for a Nigerian airline. The ch-aviation schedules module shows that British Airways (BA, London Heathrow) operates daily flights connecting London Heathrow with Lagos (with B787-10s) and Abuja (with B777-200s), while Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) operates daily between Heathrow and Lagos using A350-1000s.

Air Peace's Chairman and Chief Executive Allen Onyema told Nigeria's Arise TV the airline had "accepted" Gatwick as a convenient alternative to Heathrow, where it was unable to secure slots. He continued to criticise the UK's alleged protectionism, arguing that the bilateral air services agreement should guarantee Air Peace reciprocal access to the "primary" airport, just as the British carriers serve the two main gateways in Nigeria. The Nigerian carrier was reportedly offered slots at less congested London Stansted and London Luton previously.

"After some time, I saw that they wanted to frustrate us. So, I said, let us go anywhere, even if they wanted us to go to Scotland. We took Gatwick, which was not really our choice. In the long run, we saw some good in it," Onyema said.

Ultimately, flights will operate using Norse Atlantic Airways' slots, as Air Peace did not apply for any at either Heathrow or Gatwick for the Summer 2024 season.

Norse Atlantic focuses on long-haul low-cost flights using six B787-9s on the British AOC and four on the Norwegian one, but supplements them with various ACMI and charters.

The ch-aviation fleets module shows that Air Peace operates seven B737-300s, five B737-500s, one B777-200ER, two B777-300s, one Do328-300, eight E145s, and five E195-E2s. It also wet-leases two B737-700s from Eznis Airways and two A320-200s from SmartLynx Airlines Malta.

OAG Traffic Analyser data shows that out of over 362,000 passengers travelling from Nigeria to London in 2023, 46.8% travelled indirectly, connecting mostly in Doha Hamad International with Qatar Airways, Casablanca Mohamed V with Royal Air Maroc, and Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Airlines.