The battle between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates over the allocation of air traffic to each country’s flagships Air Peace and Emirates may not end anytime soon.
The UAE on Monday urged foreign airlines not to bring Nigerians to the UAE. Nigerian passengers have been denied boarding by Ethiopian Airlines at the Muritala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.
Sources also confirmed that Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Air and other international airlines operating from their bases in Dubai have been instructed not to board passengers with Nigerian passports whose final destination is Dubai, UAE.
It would be recalled that Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had earlier on Friday canceled 21 flights to the Emirates and limited it to one flight to Abuja every week. This was Nigeria’s response to the UAE’s refusal to grant Air Peace three weekly flights to Sharjah, UAE, which the airline had requested.
Announcing the withdrawal of the earlier permission on Friday evening, the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, issued a letter dated December 9 with reference number: NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16 /329. . , 2021, entitled “Withdrawal of Ministerial Approval of Emirates Airlines Winter Flight Plan” and addressed to the Head of State, revoked the original authorization granted to Emirates Airlines.
The letter reads: “I am writing to inform you of the withdrawal of approval for the winter flight schedule of Emirates Airlines. This approval was communicated on 1/12/2021 by letter reference number FMA/ATMO/501/C.10
/XV/ 356. The withdrawal will take effect on Sunday 12/12/2021 at 23002 hours.
“Please note that Emirates Airlines will henceforth only allow flights to Abuja once a week on Thursdays.”
Emirates also reacted unilaterally on Friday by suspending flights to Nigeria. The airline said: “Due to a recent directive restricting Emirates’ weekly flight to Nigeria via Abuja, Emirates will suspend its flights between Nigeria and Dubai from 13 December 2021 until the UAE and Nigerian authorities seek a resolution to the ongoing matter.”
In March, Nigeria banned Emirates from flying in or out of its territory after the airline imposed additional COVID-19 testing requirements for passengers from Nigeria. The ban was lifted when the issues were amicably resolved two weeks ago.