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Nigeria-United Arab Emirates (UAE) relations took a turn for the worse at the Arab nation has barred airlines from bringing in Nigeria into their country.
The signs of what UAE would do was ominous following the altercations between it and Nigeria that led to Emirates pulling out of Nigeria after the Nigerian government through the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika canceled the 21 frequencies earlier given to the airline and restricted it to just flight to Abuja every week.
This was in retaliation to the decision of the UAE to deny Nigerian flag carrier airline, Air Peace from operating to Sharjah near Dubai three times a week; a situation that infuriated the Nigerian government.
There are indications that unless the spat is amicably resolved, the UAE may impose more stringent measures on Nigeria and her citizen in the coming days.
The country may go further to tighten visa applications for Nigerians willing to visit Dubai for medicals, tourism, and business.
Information filtering through this afternoon shows that Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Air, and other international airlines going to Dubai from their bases refused to board Nigerians whose final destination is the UAE.
The airlines it was gathered insisted that they have been directed not to airlift Nigerian passport holders to Dubai.
So far, hundreds of passengers are affected by this directive as Ethiopian Airlines a few minutes ago offloaded their Nigerian passengers to Dubai.
A travel agent who spoke to Aviation Metric stated that passengers who had already booked their tickets were shell shocked when they told them that the UAE had instructed them not to pick passengers from Nigeria through their hubs.
“Our customer currently in the airport about to board Ethiopian Airlines said the airline said that flights have been banned from Nigeria to Dubai”.
Aviation security consultant, Grp. Capt. John Ojikutu (Rtd) said it was shocking that Ethiopian and other airlines are not allowed to take passengers to Dubai paints a very dangerous diplomatic problem.
“Ethiopian Airlines does not fly or check passengers direct to Dubai, so why deny transiting passengers to Dubai expect Nigerians are banned in Dubai. There are many things still hidden in the melee that we need to expose”.
Emirates on Friday suspended all flights to Nigeria from this week after the West African nation imposed new restrictions on its flights, the carrier said on Friday.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority announced earlier on Friday that it was restricting Emirates to just one weekly flight from 21 that had been initially approved.
The authority said this was in retaliation for the United Arab Emirates declining an application by local carrier Air Peace to fly to Sharjah International Airport three times a week. UAE gave the airline one weekly slot, citing the lack of available arrival slots at the airport.
“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, until the UAE and Nigerian authorities work on a solution to the ongoing issue,” Emirates said in a statement.
In March, Nigeria suspended Emirates from flying into or out of its territory after the carrier-imposed additional COVID-19 test requirements on passengers from Nigeria but had lifted the restriction last month.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with a huge diaspora that frequently travels back home and some carriers like British Airways have daily flights to the country.