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UAE Responds To Nigeria’s Withdrawal Of Emirates Airlines Winter Flight Schedule

With the ongoing diplomatic fireworks between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, the Emirati Minister of Economy, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, has said that it is unreasonable for the Arab nation to retain the slots of Nigeria-based Air Peace airline at the Sharjah International Airport.

The minister, who is also the chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority in the UAE, described as unjust, the decision of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to withdraw its approval for Emirates Airline winter schedule, cutting down the carrier’s passenger flights to just once a week.

Al-Marri made this known in a letter penned on December 10, 2021, and addressed to the Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The Nigerian Government had on Thursday, in a letter through the NCAA Director-General, Musa Nuhu, whittled the flights of Emirates Airlines to just one per week.

Nigeria had about a week ago lifted the ban on Emirates Airline’s flights to Nigeria after suspending the carrier from operating into Nigeria for several months earlier, due to concerns over UAE carrier’s requirements in the management of COVID-19.

Nuhu had stated that following the lifting of the ban, the UAE-based airline applied to the Federal Ministry of Aviation for approval of its winter flight schedule, consisting of 21 weekly passenger flight frequencies to Nigeria, noting that Nigeria approved the schedule in the spirit and intent of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between both countries.

He had, however, expressed dissatisfaction that Air Peace Airlines, the only Nigerian airline that operates passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport in the UAE, requested three weekly passenger flight frequencies but was granted only one.

Subsequently, Emirates Airline on Friday announced the suspension of its flights to Nigeria, attributing its decision to the NCAA policy limiting its operation in the country to one flight per week.

Nigeria currently has signed BASAs with over 90 countries including the UAE. However, over the years, stakeholders have lamented that most air agreements between Nigeria and other countries have been one-sided as Nigerian airlines have been unable to reciprocate the agreements due to what they termed, “aero-politics”.

Currently, over 25 foreign airlines operate flights into Nigeria; some daily, from multiple destinations. While only one Nigerian airline operates internationally, while one or two others operate on regional routes.

According to Sirika, Nigeria signed its BASA with the UAE in December 2017 and Nigeria-based Medview Airlines had commenced direct flights from Lagos to Dubai via Abuja but the operations had hit the rocks when the airline faced a crisis.

While Emirates Airline has been plying multiple frequencies to-and-fro the Abuja and Lagos airports, no Nigerian airline operated the routes for years after Medview Airlines’ short stint until recently when Air Peace reactivated the route.

UAE, especially, Dubai, is a top destination among Nigerian migrants. A percentage of Nigerian vibrant youthful population finds the middle east nation attractive. Nigerian elite and bourgeoisie also find the tourism hotspots in the gulf state appealing. Many Nigerian politicians have also been reported to own properties in the UAE while international internet fraudsters including Abass Ramon aka Hushpuppi had been arrested in their havens in Dubai.

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