How Nigeria-UAE feud morphed into supremacy battle, as Emirates restarts full-services to Nigeria Feb. 5

  • Passengers to remain in self-isolation until test proves negative
  • Gives condition to transit passengers


For one year, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) engaged in a battle for supremacy. Their ‘bitter fight’ over flight rights and COVID-19 testing morphed into a battle for supremacy in the aviation industry.

While the UAE insisted on Rapid Antigen tests for its passengers, the Nigerian authorities insisted on PCR testing that it believed showed more accuracy in testing for travellers.

The disagreement between the two nations led to Emirates stoppage of air services to Nigeria. In return, Nigeria’s flag carrier airline, Air Peace could not be allowed to operate to Dubai or Sharjah as the COVID-19 guidelines were very difficult to meet by the carrier and its passengers.

Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika

Both countries severed flight services, leading to bad blood as they both hid under COVID-19 hiatus to vent their anger. While the crisis persisted, both Emirates and Air Peace lost huge amounts of revenue; both nations also made huge losses.

While the UAE could help Emirates cushion its losses as a government fully owned carrier that is hugely subsidised, Air Peace only got protection right from the Nigerian government while loss-making Air Peace on the Dubai route seriously burnt its fingers as no subsidy was granted to the carrier while the row lasted.

When all the issues of COVID-19 matters looked like they had been resolved following the granting of 21 winter frequencies to Emirates, the Federal Government made a U-turn by cancelling all the 21 frequencies granted to the carrier.

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Its excuse: the UAE authorities reduced Air Peace’s three slots to one. In retaliation and in the spirit of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA), the Nigerian government reciprocated by granting just one flight to Emirates.

Piqued by the action of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the carrier which had resumed services to Lagos and Abuja on December 5, 2021, a day before the government’s action pulled out of the country as both nations concluded the diplomatic.

Common sense however prevailed as the UAE authorities granted the wish of the NCAA by not only restoring Air Peace’s three slots to Dubai or Sharjah but increasing it to seven from three.

It is however not clear if Air Peace has the capacity to operate seven flights a week to Dubai. It is not certain if the carrier would e able to fill its aeroplanes to Dubai every day of the week, owing to the fact that the carrier does point to point service to Sharjah; a situation that puts it a great disadvantage and truly not a competitor to Emirates or any of the Gulf carriers like Etihad or Qatar Airways.

The resolution of the row by the two nations accelerated plans by the airlines to announce the resumption of flight services.

Just today, a year after flight suspension, Emirates announced that it would restart flights from Dubai to Nigeria from February 5th, 2022.

The airline will operate to and from Abuja and Lagos with daily flights, providing more choice, comfort and enhanced connectivity for travellers connecting to Dubai and over 120 destinations.

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According to the carrier, Emirates will operate to Abuja with EK 785 and 786. EK 785 will depart Dubai at 1100hrs, arriving in Abuja at 1540hrs. The return flight, EK 786 will take off from Abuja at 1900, arriving in Dubai at 0435hrs the next day.

Emirates flight EK 783 to Lagos will depart Dubai at 1030hrs, arriving in Lagos at 1540hrs. The return flight EK 784 will depart Lagos at 1810hrs, arriving in Dubai at 0415hrs the next day. All flights can be booked on, with OTAs and via travel agents.

All passengers travelling from Nigeria with Dubai as their final destination are required a 48 hour PCR test.

Also to be provided is a valid negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate with a QR code for a test conducted at an approved facility, while validity must be calculated from the time the sample was collected.

Upon arrival in Dubai, passengers will undergo an additional Covid-19 PCR test and remain in self-quarantine until the results of the test are received.

Passengers travelling from Nigeria and transiting in Dubai are required to follow the rules and requirements of their final destination.

Since it safely resumed tourism activity in July 2020, Dubai remains one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, especially during the winter season. The city is open for international business and leisure visitors.

From sun-soaked beaches and heritage activities to world-class hospitality and leisure facilities, Dubai offers a variety of world-class experiences. It was one of the world’s first cities to obtain the Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – which endorses Dubai’s comprehensive and effective measures to ensure guest health and safety.

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Dubai is currently hosting the world for Expo 2020, until March 2022. Through the theme of Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, Expo 2020 Dubai aims to inspire people by showcasing the best examples of collaboration, innovation and cooperation from around the world.

Its programme is packed with experiences to suit all ages and interests, including a rich line-up of themed weeks, entertainment, and edutainment. Art and culture fans, as well as food and technology enthusiasts, can explore exhibits, workshops, performances, live shows and more.

Emirates Business Class cabin

Flexibility and Assurance:

Emirates continues to lead the industry with innovative products and services and recently took its customer care initiatives further with even more generous and flexible booking policies, which have been extended to 31 May 2022, Covid-19 medical travel insurance, and is helping loyal customers retain their miles and tier status.

Health and safety: Keeping the health and wellbeing of its passengers as a top priority, Emirates has introduced a comprehensive set of safety measures at every step of the customer journey. The airline has also recently introduced contactless technology and scaled up its digital verification capabilities to provide its customers with even more opportunities to utilise the IATA Travel Pass, which can now be used across 50 airports served by Emirates.

Wole Shadare