The federal government on Friday reiterated the frequency restrictions on Emirates Airlines’ flights into Nigeria in response to the Dubai government’s refusal to reciprocate the same gesture the airline enjoys to the only Nigeria carrier that operates into the Middle East country.
The director-general, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, clarified why it withdrew the ministerial approval granted Emirates Airlines by the Ministry of Aviation.
The withdrawal, which takes effect from December 12, 2021, allows Emirates Airlines to fly into Abuja (Nigeria) only once weekly on Thursdays, while the airline’s Lagos flight is suspended.
Capt. Nuhu said NCAA withdrew the approval following the refusal of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to grant equal rights to the sole Nigerian carrier, Air Peace flying to Dubai via Sharjah.
Nuhu said 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 the approval, the GCAA refused to grant Air Peace three weekly frequencies to Sharjah, which the airline requested for, as it instead 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.
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 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.”
NCAA had in a letter with the reference number: NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/329, dated December 9, 2021, with the head: ‘Withdrawal of Ministerial Approval of Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule,’ and signed by Nuhu to the country manager, Emirates Airlines, withdrew the initial approval granted the airline.