The additional flight given to Emirates Airline‘s operation in Nigeria has drawn criticism from stakeholders of the domestic aviation airlines. The new development didn’t go down well with the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) as its accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of taking advantage of Nigeria.
The Chairman of AON, Nogie Meggisson who called the attention of the public to the move said the addition has increased Emirates flights to four daily to Nigeria through Lagos and Abuja. This, he said, is to the disadvantage of domestic operators within the country. He said Nigeria’s economy and the unemployed also stand to lose.
Unfair treatment: Meggisson described the development as an unfair treatment by the government at a time Air Peace just got approval to ply the United Arab Emirates route. He added that while Air Peace was still struggling to have a dedicated lounge or departure wing to its name at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, the likes of Emirates, British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France and others had branded dedicated lounges in their respective countries provided by the governments.
“It is very unfair for Emirates to be allowed such increase barely two weeks after the inauguration of flights on July 5 to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates by Air Peace, our very own Nigerian airline.
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“The move effectively places our indigenous carriers at a massive disadvantage, the Nigerian economy and the jobs of our youths and huge capital flight.
“You will recall that AON had appealed that government must stand tall to play the role of aero-politics to support Air Peace, otherwise it will end up the same way as others that went before it as they were unable to play in the wild and aggressive field of international aero-politics.
“Emirates, as of today, operates two daily flights out of Lagos and two daily flights out of Abuja. Etihad, from the same country, also operates daily flights out of Lagos as well.
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“This translates to five flights daily and a total of 150 flights per month from UAE; as against a Nigerian carrier that only just started operating three flights weekly (12 flights monthly into UAE).”
Clampdown needed to effect change: Meggisson argued on behalf of the domestic airlines. He gave instances of the United States President, Donald Trump, who shortened the number of flights from UAE after complaints of open skies and anti-competitive behaviour of the Gulf airlines from US airline companies such as United, American and Delta.
Meggisson said Trump ensured UAE reduce their flights into the US by 30% through policy,
“It is the role of government, therefore, to protect our very own Nigerian carriers and preserve the Nigerian economy and the jobs of our unemployed youths.
“The additional double daily flights given to Emirates, a highly subsidised airline, is not necessary at this time as statistics show that half of the flights out of Abuja are half empty.
“The Emirate airlines already have an unfair trade advantage of 150 flights monthly out of Nigeria; as against 12 monthly flights for Nigerian airlines.
“We will, therefore, like to use this medium to call on the government to review all existing Bilateral Air Services Agreements to readdress the unfair trade advantage given to foreign airlines against Nigerian airlines.”