In the emerging aero politics, the Federal Government has suspended Emirates flights from flying to the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, while the airline has been approved to operate only one weekly flight to Abuja.
In response to Emirates Airlines’ refusal to grant the three slots requested by Air Peace, the only Nigerian carrier operating to Dubai via Sharjah, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) withdrew the Ministerial approval of Emirates Airlines’ winter schedule.
In the letter dated 9 December 2021 addressed to the Country Manager, Emirates Airlines, Nigeria with reference number NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/329, the NCAA revealed that the withdrawal will be effective from 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.”
This development means the UAE carrier can only fly to Abuja once a week as its frequencies are reduced from 21 weekly to one.
This is coming a few days after Emirates resumed flights to Nigeria after over a 9-month suspension due to COVID-19 protocol.
Clarifying the withdrawal, Nuhu 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.
He explained that despite the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, graciously granting Emirates Airlines 21 frequencies weekly to two major airports in Nigeria; Lagos, 14 and Abuja, seven, the GCAA still refused to grant Air Peace three weekly frequencies to Sharjah, which was requested for and approved just one frequency weekly.
The GCAA, he said, refused to grant Air Peace the three frequencies due to inadequate slots at Sharjah airport. Nuhu however, assured that the government would protect Nigerian carriers.
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.”