The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reacted to Nigeria’s withdrawal of ministerial approval granted to Emirates Airlines with respect to its Winter flight schedule from Nigeria.
This was confirmed in a letter addressed to Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
According to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s withdrawal of the approval which becomes effective from Sunday, December 12, Emirates Airlines is granted approval to fly only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays.
A few days ago, according to a letter, which was signed by the Director-General, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, the apex aviation regulator withdrew the ministerial approval granted to Emirate Airlines’ Winter Schedule.
The NCAA disclosed in a follow-up statement that the approval was withdrawn because the same treatment was given to Air Peace Airlines, the only Nigerian airline that operates passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
What the GCAA is saying
The GCAA in its statement has stated that the decision by Nigeria’s NCAA is totally unjustified, especially as it has been disclosed that the action is being taken against the background of Air Peace not securing all 3 slots at Sharjah Airport which they desired.
The GCAA said that Air Peace initially operated at Sharjah Airport, shifted to Dubai Airport and then returned to Sharjah airport and that it would be unreasonable for the airline to expect any airport to maintain its slots when it ceases to operate at the airport.
“In this regard, we wish to kindly advise you that Sharjah airport is currently operating at 140% slot capacity, but with goodwill and tremendous effort on their side, this airport was able to accommodate Air Peace with 1 of the 3 slots that this airline requested,” it said.
The GCAA however offered to help Air Peace find available slots in other airports in the UAE.
It said, “Finally, we suggest that Air Peace should consider flying their two other flights to any UAE airport at which there are available slots. As expected, the GCAA will support Air Peace in this activity, where requested.”
It however advised Nigeria to reconsider the withdrawal of approval as it stated that the issue should never have been between Nigeria and Emirates Airlines, but between Air Peace and Sharjah Airport
“In this regard, we wish to reiterate that this is a purely operational matter between Air Peace and Sharjah Airport and in any case it should have absolutely o implication for Emirates Airline,” it added.
In the last year, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, Nigeria and Emirates Airlines have had what could be somewhat described as a topsy-turvy relationship.
Nairametrics had reported earlier on Friday that NCAA had withdrawn the ministerial approval granted to Emirate Airlines Winter Schedule.
This was confirmed in a letter which was seen by Nairametrics, issued by the apex regulator to the management of the airline in Nigeria on Thursday.