Hurdles before Emirates, Air Peace can resume flight operations-NCAA

The Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority 9NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu has stated that the country and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) still have some grey areas they need to work on before full flight services can be restored between both countries.

Nuhu stated this while amid the lifting of the ban by the UAE on 12 African countries including Nigeria, stressing that hat the issue of flight operations between Nigeria and UAE is based on the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA).

Emirates aircraft and crew members

According to him, “Nigeria as a government, we don’t deal with an airline, we deal with the authorities of UAE. So, what I told the Country Manager of Emirates when he came to my office him is that the Civil Aviation Authority of UAE should write to us officially through diplomatic channels”.

“When we have that, it means the Nigerian Government is in official communication with UAE. As soon as that letter comes in, I’m sure it is going to come maybe today or tomorrow, we will act on it. Unofficially, we are not aware because I need the UAE CAA to officially inform me through government to government channels. So, when we get that it becomes official”, he added.

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He further hinted that when they receive the letter from the UAE government, then, the Federal Government would have to take a decision on that.

According to him, “We have the Ministry of Aviation, which deals with matters of policies, and also, we have the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on Covid-19. However, we don’t think it will take time to make a decision once we receive the letter officially”.

On Air Peace decision for flights to Dubai, the NCAA chief said they cannot choose for the Nigerian flag carrier airline whether it wants to operate to Dubai or Sharjah, stressing that It depends on the airline to choose the airport it wants to fly into and the approval given by the UAE Government based on Nigeria’s BASA arrangement with them.

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“We will support Air Peace and if Air Peace is having some issues there, we will see how we can help with the authorities there too so that they won’t have any problem and the airline can resume flight services to the airport”.

“Air Peace is a Nigerian carrier and it is our responsibility to ensure that they get any support we can give them like any other Nigerian carrier. We see a lot of countries that their airlines come here and how their governments support them. For instance, when United Airlines wanted to resume flight services to Nigeria, the American Government supported them through their embassy in Nigeria. Everybody is supporting its own and we should support our own airlines”.

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The diplomatic feud between Nigeria and UAE started in December last year over the rejection of frequencies Air Peace requested.

Air Peace requested three frequencies and they gave it just one. The reason was that Sharjah airport was overstretched.

 

The NCAA did not buy that arguing that there is no airport that is operating above capacity at the moment as a result of COVID-19.

The UAE has however given Air Peace the slots it requested while the aviation regulatory body has equally restored Emirates 21 frequencies to Lagos and Abuja.

Wole Shadare