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An Emirates Boeing 777-300 (Photo: AirlineGeeks.com | Greg Linton)

Emirates Suspends Flights To Nigeria Amid Slot Dispute

Last Friday, Emirates announced the suspension of flight operations between Nigeria and Dubai amid an intensifying slot allocation row between the Nigerian Ministry of Aviation and the United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), just a week after the country’s largest airline announced its flight resumption to Abuja, Nigeria and Lagos, Nigeria.

The Dubai, UAE-based airline is once again suspending flights in and out of Nigeria until both countries resolved “the ongoing issue,” with the suspension taking effect beginning Monday.

Slot Allocation

Abdullah Bin Touq Al Marri — the Chairman of GCAA Board and Minister of Economy — signed a letter from Dec. 10. In the letter, the GCAA requested that the federal government restore Emirates’ winter schedule.
The letter expressed sadness that the federal government withdrew the winter schedule because the United Arab Emirates refused to allow Air Peace’s request for three flights a week slot at Al Sharjah, UAE’s Sharjah Airport. The GCAA argued that Nigeria’s ministry of aviation to limit Emirates flights to once per week was unjustifiable while also accusing Nigeria’s Air Peace of abandoning Sharjah Airport noting that the Airport was currently operating at 140 percent slot capacity.
“We wish to kindly advise you that Sharjah Airport is currently operating at 140 percent slot capacity, but with goodwill and tremendous efforts on their side, this Airport was able to accommodate Air Peace with one of the three slots that this airline requested,” the letter said. “The GCAA wishes to stress that the action being taken by the NCAA is not in line with the spirit of the agreed air services arrangements between our two nations.”
“As we are both aware, the relations between our two brotherly countries are vintage, one hallmark being the recent visit of the President of Nigeria to the UAE, which certainly mirrored the status of the positive relations. Finally, we suggest that Air Peace should consider flying their two flights to any UAE airport at which there are available slots. As expected, the GCAA will support Air Peace in this activity, where required,” the letter adds.

Reciprocal Treatment

Air Peace Airlines — the only Nigerian airline that operates passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates — requested three weekly passenger flight frequencies and was granted only one weekly flight.

The chair of the GCAA attributed this action due to the non-availability of arrival slots at Sharjah International Airport.

On the other hand, Emirates Airline applied to Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Aviation for approval of its winter flight schedule, with the requested schedule consisting of 21 weekly passenger flight frequencies to Nigeria, comprising of two daily flights to Lagos, Nigeria’s Murtala Mohammed Airport and one daily flight to Abuja, Nigeria’s Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport.

Captain Musa Nuhu — the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) — explained that the reason why the government withdrew 20 flights from Emirates, leaving the Middle East carrier with one flight to Abuja, was because that was the same way the UAE treated Air Peace.

Air Peace had requested three flights a week but UAE authorities approved only one flight a week for the airline. The Director-General — in line with the principle of reciprocity — mentioned that the Nigerian government had to do the same for Emirates.

Author

  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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