The Federal Government had on Thursday, December 9, 2021, withdrew its approval for Emirates Airlines winter schedule and also reduced the carrier’s daily flights to Abuja to just once a week.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, said the decision followed the refusal of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to grant the three frequencies requested by Air Peace, the only Nigerian carrier operating to Dubai via Sharjah.
Nuhu explained that the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had graciously granted Emirates Airlines 21 frequencies weekly to two major airports in Nigeria; Lagos, 14 and Abuja, seven.
He regretted that despite this approval, the GCAA refused to grant Air Peace three weekly frequencies to Sharjah, which the airline requested for, but rather approved just one frequency weekly.
According to him, the GCAA had attributed its refusal to grant the three frequencies to the airline to inadequate slots in Sharjah airport, stressing that the government would continue to protect Nigeria’s businesses.
Emirates Suspends Flights To Nigeria
But in what appears like a fight-back, Emirates Airline announced the suspension of its operations between Nigeria and Dubai, noting that will be ready to reinstate services once UAE and the federal government work on a solution to the ongoing issue.
The statement reads, “With the recently imposed directive limiting Emirates to operate one flight per week to Nigeria via Abuja, Emirates will be suspending its flights between Nigeria and Dubai from 13 December 2021, until the UAE and Nigerian authorities work on a solution to the ongoing issue.
“The last flights to operate on 12 December 2021are EK 783/784 to/from Lagos and EK 785/786 to/from Abuja.
“Customers holding tickets with the final destinations Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted at the point of origin.
“Affected customers do not need to call us immediately for rebooking. Customers can simply hold on to their Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with their travel agent or booking office to make new travel plans.
“Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. 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.”
Last Sunday, Emirates resumed flight operations to Nigeria after almost ten months of diplomatic discussions around COVID-19 travel requirements for Nigerian passengers.
With the new issue bordering on Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA), Nigeria and UAE authorities have resumed another round of diplomatic row that will see Emirates and Air Peace losing huge revenue.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has also banned flights coming from Nigeria into the country due to the outbreak of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron.