The Federal Government has again suspended Emirates flights from flying to the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, while approving only one weekly flight to Abuja for the airline.
In the emerging aero politics, the government is attributing its decision to the refusal of the airline to grant the three slots requested by Air Peace, the sole Nigerian carrier operating to Dubai via Sharjar.
- BREAKING: Abducted Monarch found dead, 4 gunned down in Imo Community
- Destruction of crops: Taraba monarch warns herdsmen
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had via a letter withdrawn the Ministerial approval of Emirates Airlines’ winter schedule.
In the letter dated 9 December, 2021, with reference number NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/329, and addressed to the Country Manager, Emirates Airlines, Nigeria, the NCAA affirmed that the withdrawal will take effect on Sunday.
Part of the letter, signed by the NCAA Director General, Capt. Musa Nuhu, and issued on Thursday, read: “I wish to inform you of the withdrawal of the approval granted to Emirates Airlines Winter schedule. This approval was conveyed via a letter with reference number: FMA/ATMD/501/C.104/XV/536 dated 1st December 2021. This withdrawal becomes effective on Sunday 12th December, 2021 at 2300z.
“Please kindly note, henceforth, Emirates Airlines is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays.”
With the development, the UAE carrier can only fly to Abuja once in a week with Emirates’ frequencies reduced from 21 weekly to one.
The decision by the NCAA followed the refusal of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to approve the three slots to Sharjar which Air Peace requested for.
Air Peace has been operating to Dubai via Sharjar amidst grumbling from stakeholders who queried while Air Peace should be limited to Sharjar when Emirates operates to both Lagos and Abuja.
The latest development comes a few days after Emirates resumed flights to Nigeria after over 9-month suspension due to COVID-19 protocol.
Nuhu, who clarified the withdrawal of Emirates schedule, said the decision by GCAA in Dubai to grant equal rights to the sole Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, flying to Dubai via Sharjah, was discriminatory and unfair.
Nuhu explained that the Minister of Aviation, Sen. 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 and rather approved just one frequency weekly.
According to him, the GCAA had attributed its refusal to grant the three frequencies to Air Peace to inadequate slots in Sharjah airport.
Nuhu assured that the government would continue to protect the Nigerian carrier.
He said: “The Nigerian Government was gracious to grant Emirates Airlines 21 frequencies it requested for. The airline wants to operate 14 weekly flights to Lagos and another seven weekly flights to Abuja airports.
“However, Air Peace only requested three weekly flights to Sharjah, not even Dubai airport, but the CAA refused the airline. The CAA only approved one weekly frequency to the airline.
“The only excuse they gave was that they don’t have enough slots. Where is the justice in this? That is capital flight out of Nigeria. Nigeria should protect its own.”