Direct flights between Israel and Nigeria begins on April 20, Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria, Mr Michael Freeman, said in Abuja on Saturday.
“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.
“This would not have been possible without efforts by the current administration. The Ministers of Aviation and that of Foreign Affairs were instrumental in making this to 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 delays overseas, whereas direct flight is 5 hours and 20 minutes.
“The direct flights will do a number of things; especially they will bring our countries closer together,’’ the envoy told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
He assured that the Israeli mission in Nigeria would work closely with the Federal Government to deepen diplomatic ties between the two countries.
He explained that Israel with holy land and 3,000 years of history had been playing host to Christian, Muslim and Judaist pilgrims.
He added that business relations between Nigeria and Israel would also improve since Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa and Israel is known for thriving businesses.
According to him, the air transportation link will strengthen business opportunities, increase tourism potential and enhance foreign currency flow to Nigeria as well.
“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.
“Forty-five per cent 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 together Israel and Nigeria can work together to create millions of jobs.
“Another area is in 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.
The envoy described Israel as a country with huge potential and eagerness to share its knowledge and expertise with Nigeria.
“We are very eager to learn from Nigeria; I think partnership between our two countries can take both countries to dazzling new heights.
“I am confident that the incoming leadership in Nigeria under Sen. Bola Tinubu will improve the lives of Nigerians,’’ Freeman stressed.