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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has protested Nigeria’s decision to restrict Emirates Airline to just one flight per week, from Abuja.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s (NCAA), on Friday said Emirates Airlines can now fly into Abuja (Nigeria) just once weekly on Thursdays, while its Lagos flight was suspended.
The action was to reciprocate UAE authorities restriction of national flag carrier Air Peace to Sharjah, whereas Emirates flies to Lagos and Abuja, almost daily.
However, in a letter dated the same day of the NCAA action, UAE’s Minister of Economy and Chairman of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, described the Nigeria’s action as ‘totally unjust’.
He said the action was “not in line with the spirit of the agreed air services arrangements between our two Nations.”
He asked the Federal Government to restore Emirates Airlines slots, in the letter addressed to Hadi Sirika, the aviation minister.
Al Marri appeared to blame Air Peace for the misunderstanding.
According to him, Air Peace initially operated at Sharjah Airport, shifted to Dubai Airport and then returned to Sharjah Airport.
He said the airport authority cannot keep Air Peace slots after it left.
Amidst the brouhaha, Emirates announced the suspension of operations between Nigeria and Dubai from Monday until both countries resolved the aviation row.
“The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) presents its compliments to the Federal Ministry of Aviation of Nigeria and has the honour to refer to the letter Ref. No. NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/329 dated 9th December of 20921, whereby Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) notified the country manager, Emirates Airline (EK) in Nigeria, regarding the withdrawal of the ministerial approval granted to that airline with respect to their Winter Schedule.”
“The NCAA further advised EK that his withdrawal become effective on Sunday 12, 2021, and hence EK is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays.
“The GCAA has the honour to highlight that such a decision by the NCAA is totally unjustified especially, as it has come to our attention that their action is being taken against the background of Air Peace not securing all 3 slots at Sharjah Airport which they desire.
“Air Peace initially operated at Sharjah Airport, shifted to Dubai Airport, and then returned to Sharjah Airport. It would be unreasonable for an airline to expect any airport to maintain their slots when they ceased operating at that airport.”
The UAE aviation authority further said Sharjah Airport is currently operating at 140 percent slot capacity — and that the country had made goodwill by accommodating Air Peace with one slot of the three requested.
It, however, urged the NCAA to review the decision and restore the approval of the Emirates Airline Winter Schedule, as filed.
“We wish to kindly advise you that Sharjah Airport is currently operating at 140% slot capacity, but with goodwill and tremendous efforts on their side, this Airport was able to accommodate Air Peace with 1 of the 3 slots that this airline requested,” the letter adds.
“The GCAA wishes to stress that the action being taken by the NCAA is obviously not in line with the spirit of the agreed air services arrangements between our two Nations.
“As we are both aware, the relations between our two brotherly countries are vintage in nature, one hallmark being the recent visit of the President of Nigeria to the UAE, which certainly mirrored the status of the positive relations.
“Finally, we suggest that Air Peace should consider flying their two flights to any UAE airport at which there are available slots. As expected, the GCAA will support Air Peace in this activity, where required.
“Your Excellency, your kind support is anticipated so that the NCAA reviews their decision and restores the approval of the Emirates Airline Winter Schedule, as filed. In this regard, we wish to reiterate that this is purely an operational matter between Air Peace and Sharjah Airport, and in any case, it should have absolutely no implication for Emirates Airline.”
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