UAE grants domestic carriers choice destinations, Nigeria, SA sign safety deal over poor ICAO audit’result

CBN to pay foreign airlines over $500 million trapped-Minister

Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo on Thursday said that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has concluded plans to give Nigerian carriers wishing to operate in the UAE reciprocal rights under the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) the country has with the country.

He disclosed that he insisted on that with assurance from the UAE authorities that they would be granted any spot they choose to fly to.

Some existing Nigerian airlines

The Minister who spoke on the sidelines of the Aviation Africa Summit in Abuja said his ministry had begun to work out flight resumption of Emirates Airlines and Etihad, stressing that resumption of flights from the routes Emirates exited last year due to a diplomatic face-off could take a little more time.

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This is coming as Nigeria and South Africa signed an agreement on air safety and how to assist the country in attaining high safety standards, especially on the backdrop of Nigeria performing poorly in the recently conducted International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) where the country scored 70%.

Nigeria through the NCAA scored 70% in the audit which raised serious concern considering that the NCAA failed to hit the 75% pass mark.

His words, “It is an immediate deliverable for me under the indicator ensuring enforcement of highest standards within our shores.”

“South Africa is doing 92% with ICAO; we are doing 70% and our agreement today is that we have signed an agreement with a bigger brother in terms of safety standards in Africa and we are proud to do so because of sharing intelligence with them that somebody is lifting us up. It is going to be a symbiotic relationship because there are also areas we are going to assist them with in terms of safety standards. That is what we did today”.

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Emirates A380 aircraft set for take-off

Keyamo further stated that he would call for a stakeholders meeting to address myriads of challenges facing the sector, particularly on multiple charges and the fact that the Abuja and Lagos airports rank as the aerodromes with the highest levies.

Speaking on trapped funds, the Minister assured foreign airlines whose trapped funds are about $500 million that they would be paid soon, stressing that the country is not doing the carriers favors by paying them their monies.

According to him, “It is their trapped fund that is there and earned already. The problem was caused by issues of liquidity and that is our problem “.

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“The issue of liquidity is been addressed right now and it is something the President is very concerned about. We addressed that issue in the UAE. We have begun to work out the details of flight resumption “.

He promised to give his support to the local carriers’ initiatives. He however stated that whilst he is ready to support them, they must have a reciprocal duty to the Nigerian people to ensure the safety and comfort of Nigerians and make them their priority.

Wole Shadare