All is not looking good between the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), and The United Arab Emirates national carrier, Emirates Airlines.
It seems there is no end in sight to the row between both countries, as Emirates Airlines has once again suspended all its flight to Nigeria following the decision by the Civil Aviation Authority to reduce the carrier’s frequency to the country to only once weekly flight to Abuja.
The airline in a statement to its customers and air travellers said it will cease all operations to Nigeria pending when both country’s resolve their differences.
The statement said: “With the recently imposed directive limiting Emirates to operate one flight per week to Nigeria via Abuja, Emirates will be completely suspending its flights between Nigeria and Dubai, until the Civil Aviation Authorities from both countries find a solution to the current ongoing issue.
“We regret the inconvenience caused, and customers can contact their travel agent or booking office to make alternative arrangements.
“Emirates is committed to its operations in Nigeria, and we stand ready to reinstate services once restrictions are lifted by the Nigerian authorities, ensuring travellers have more choice and access to trade and tourism opportunities in Dubai, and beyond to our network of over 120 destinations.” – Emirates spokesperson”
Meanwhile, the NCAA has given reasons for suspending the airline’s winter schedule.
The NCAA in a press release signed the Director General, Captain Musa Nuhu said: “Following the lifting of the ban on Emirates Airline passenger flights to Nigeria by the Government, the UAE based airline applied to the Federal Ministry of Aviation for approval of it Winter Flight Schedule. The requested schedule consisted of twenty-one (21) weekly passenger flight frequencies to Nigeria, comprising of two daily flights to Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos and one daily flight to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
“The Honourable Minister of Aviation graciously approved the Winter Schedule without any hindrance or arrival slots requirements in the spirit and intent of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and UAE.
“Air Peace Airlines, the only Nigerian airline that operates passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport in UAE, requested for three (3) weekly passenger flight frequencies and was granted only one (1) weekly passenger flight frequency. The Director General of General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) attributed the action due non-availability of arrival slots at Sharjah International Airport.
“Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) 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 (1) out of the three (3) weekly passenger flight frequencies requested by Air Peace.
“DG NCAA held a series of meetings with his GCAA (UAE) counterpart at the sidelines of the ICAO Air Negotiation Conference (ICAN) in Bogota, Colombia which all ended in stalemates.
“The Honourable Minister of Aviation decided to apply the principle of reciprocity and withdraw the approval of the Winter Schedule given to Emirates and instead approved one (1) weekly flight frequency to Abuja on Thursday. The DG NCAA 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 cause.”