Emirates Airline suspends Nigeria flights after new restrictions

 Emirates Airlines

An Emirates Airline plane. The airline has suspended all its flights to Nigeria with effect from Monday.

Photo credit: File

Abuja,

In less than 24 hours after the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) reduced the flights of Emirates Airline in Nigeria, the prestigious airline from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has suspended all its flights to Nigeria with effect from Monday.

Nigeria accused UAE authorities of not granting equal rights to the sole Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, flying to Dubai through Sharjah.

 “With the recently imposed directive limiting Emirates to operate one flight per week to Nigeria via Abuja, Emirates will be suspending its flights between Nigeria and Dubai from 13 December 2021,’’ Emirates said in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

The airline said that the decision would hold until the UAE and Nigerian authorities work on a solution to the ongoing issue.

 “The last flights to operate on 12 December 2021are EK 783/784 to/from Lagos and EK 785/786 to/from Abuja

Final destinations

 “Customers holding tickets with the final destinations Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted at the point of origin.

 “Affected customers do not need to call us immediately for rebooking. Customers can simply hold on to their Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with their travel agent or booking office to make new travel plans.

Regretting the situation and any inconvenience caused by the impasse, Emirates said that in order to receive the latest updates on their flights, customers were advised to ensure that their contact details were correct by visiting Manage Your Booking

“Emirates is committed to its operations in Nigeria, and we stand ready to reinstate services once restrictions are lifted by the Nigerian authorities, ensuring travellers have more choice and access to trade and tourism opportunities in Dubai, and beyond to our network of over 120 destinations,” the Airline said.

Ministerial approval

Nigeria recently imposed a directive limiting Emirates to operate one flight per week to Nigeria via Abuja.

The NCAA has clarified why it withdrew the ministerial approval granted Emirates Airlines by the Ministry of Aviation.

With the withdrawal, which takes effect from December 12, 2021, Emirates Airlines can now fly into Abuja (Nigeria) just once weekly on Thursdays, while its Lagos flight is suspended.

Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of NCAA, said that it 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.

Capt. Nuhu explained that Mr Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation had graciously granted Emirates Airlines 21 frequencies weekly to two major airports in Nigeria; Lagos, 14 and Abuja, seven.

He regretted that despite this approval, the GCAA refused to grant Air Peace three weekly frequencies to Sharjah, which the airline requested for, rather approved just one frequency weekly.

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.

“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 didn’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 Mr Nuhu to the Country Manager, Emirates Airlines withdrew the initial approval granted the airline.

The letter read: “I write to inform you of the withdrawal of the approval granted to Emirates Airlines winter schedule. This approval was conveyed via a letter with reference number FMA/ATMO/501/C.104/XV/356 dated 1st December 2021. The withdrawal became effective on Sunday 12th December 2021 at 23002.

 “Please kindly note, henceforth Emirates Airlines is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays.”  

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