Nigeria activates reciprocity clause bars Emirates flights to Lagos

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (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.

Speaking with journalists on Friday, 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.

 

Nuhu explained that Sen. 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.

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

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“However, Air Peace only requested for 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 the capital flight out of Nigeria. Nigeria should protect its own.”

DG NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu

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.

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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 becomes 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.”

Wole Shadare