#Nigeria-UAE Row: FG Reinstates Emirates Flights To Lagos, Abuja

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The Federal Government has reinstated the daily flights of Emirates Airlines to Nigeria after the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority offered daily flight slots to Nigeria’s Air Peace to operate into Dubai Airport.

The Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Musa Nuhu, disclosed the reinstatement of Emirates Airlines daily flights to Nigeria in a letter to the Country Manager of Emirates Airlines in Nigeria.

The letter, which was dated December 21, 2021, with reference number NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/334, was titled, “Re-instatement of Ministerial Approval of Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule.”

It read in part, “Following further consultations with various stakeholders and the letter from the Dubai CAA  with reference number DCAA/ASA/N-3/016, dated December 17, 2021 offering Air Peace Airlines daily slots at Dubai Airports, I wish to inform you the reinstatement of the ministerial approval of Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule.

“This approval is predicated on compliance with the Dubai Travel Protocol as released by Dubai Airports on Friday November 26, 2021 as it affects passengers traveling from Nigeria to UAE (United Arab Emirates).

“Please be guided accordingly. Please accept the assurances of my highest regards.”

There has been some form of diplomatic row between Nigeria and UAE which has persisted since the outbreak of COVID-19, and it increased after the Omicron variant emerged.

About two weeks ago, for instance, the Federal Government provided explanations on why it had to cut down Emirates Airlines flights into Nigeria from 21 in a week to only one.

Providing explanation for its action, the NCAA boss had stated that following the lifting of the ban on Emirates Airline passenger flights to Nigeria by the government, the UAE-based airline applied to Federal Ministry of Aviation for approval of its winter flight schedule.

Nuhu said the requested schedule consisted of 21 weekly passenger flight frequencies to Nigeria, comprising of two daily flights to the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos and one daily flight to the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.

He explained in a statement that the Minister of Aviation graciously approved the winter schedule as requested without any hindrance or arrival slots requirements in the spirit and intent of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and UAE.

He further stated that Air Peace, the only Nigerian airline that operated passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport in UAE, requested three weekly passenger flights and was granted only one weekly passenger flight.

The NCAA boss stated that the Director-General of General Civil Aviation Authority in the UAE attributed this action to non-availability of arrival slots at Sharjah International Airport.

Nuhu said, “Bilateral Air Services Agreements between countries are based on the principle of reciprocity for transparency and fairness to both sides.

“While Nigerian authorities approved the request of Emirates Airlines, UAE authorities acted in total disregard of the terms and provisions of the BASA between the two countries by approving one out of the three weekly passenger flight frequencies requested by Air Peace Airlines.”

Nuhu said he held a held a series of meetings with his GCAA counterpart on the sidelines of the ICAO Air Negotiation Conference in Bogota, Colombia which all ended in stalemates.

“The Minister of Aviation (Nigeria) decided to apply the principle of reciprocity and withdraw the approval of the winter schedule given to Emirates Airlines and instead approved one weekly flight frequency to Abuja on Thursday,” Nuhu stated in the statement.

He said he notified the Country Manager of Emirates Airlines and DG GCAA of the new approved weekly passenger flight schedule.

“We want to assure the public that national interests in all aviation matters will be jealously guided and protected while regretting any inconvenience this action might caused,” the NCAA boss stated.

But going by the latest December 21, 2021 letter from the NCAA to Emirates, the differences between both nations as regards flight frequencies appears to have been addressed.

As it is expected that both Air Peace and Emirates Airlines will resume their daily operations into Dubai and Nigeria.

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