The Federal Government of Nigeria has reinstated its approval for Emirates Airlines’ winter flight schedule, consisting of 21 weekly passenger flight frequencies to the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja; and the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, Lagos.
This is as the United Arab Emirates cave in to pressure and granted Nigeria’s Air Peace Airline daily slots at the Dubai Airport, in the spirit of reciprocity and the Bilateral Air Service Agreement in existence between the UAE and Nigeria.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt Musa Nuhu, made the reinstatement known in a letter to the Country Manager of Emirates Airlines in Nigeria on Tuesday.
The NCAA also copied its counterpart in the UAE, the General Authority of Civil Aviation as well as the Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
The letter marked, NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/334, was titled, ‘The FG grants Emirates 21 weekly flights as UAE allows Air Peace daily schedule’.
It read, ”Following further consultations with various stakeholders and the letter from Dubai Civil Aviation Authority with reference number DCAA/ASA/N-3/016 dated 17 December, 2021 offering Air Peace airline daily slots at Dubai Airport, I wish to inform you of the reinstatement of the ministerial approval of
Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule.
”This approval is predicated on the compliance with the Dubai Travel Protocol as released by Dubai Airports on Friday 26 November, 2021 as it affects passengers travelling from Nigeria to UAE. Please be guided accordingly.”
Nigeria had recently lifted the ban on Emirates Airlines’ 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 BASA 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”.