In a statement on Friday 10th November, Captain Musa Nuhu the Director General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), said that the federal government gave the directive following the refusal of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to grant equal rights to Air Peace the only Nigerian airline that operates passenger flights to Sharjah international airport in UAE.
NCAA in a statement signed by the Director General says that following the lifting of the ban on Emirates Airline passenger flights to Nigeria by the Government, the UAE based airline applied to Federal Ministry of Aviation for approval of its Winter Flight Schedule. The requested schedule consisted of twenty-one (21) weekly passenger flight ‘frequencies to Nigeria, comprising of two daily flights to Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos and one daily flight to Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.
‘’The Honourable Minister of Aviation graciously approved the Winter Schedule as requested without any hindrance or arrival slots requirements in the spirit and intent of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and UAE.
‘’Air Peace Airlines, the only Nigerian airline that operates passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport in UAE, requested for three (3) weekly passenger flight frequencies and was granted only one (1) weekly passenger flight frequency. The Director General of General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) attributed this action due non-availability of arrival slots at Sharjah International Airport.
‘’Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between countries are based on the principle of reciprocity for transparency and fairness to both sides. While Nigerian Authorities approved the request of Emirates Airlines, UAE Authorities acted in total disregard of the terms and provisions of the BASA between the two countries by approving one (1) out of the three weekly passenger flight frequencies requested by Air Peace Airlines.
The statement further says that, DG NCAA held a held a series of meetings with his GCAA (UAE) counterpart at the sidelines of the ICAO Air Negotiation Conference (ICAN) in Bogota, Colombia which all ended in stalemates.
‘’The Honorable Minister of Aviation decided to apply the principle of reciprocity and withdraw the approval of the Winter Schedule given to Emirates Airlines and instead approved one (l) weekly flight frequency to Abuja on Thursday. The DG NCAA notified the Country Manager of Emirates Airlines and DG GCAA of the new approved weekly passenger flight schedule,
‘’We want to assure the public that national interests in all aviation matters will be jealously guided and protected while regretting any inconvenience this action might cause,’’ the statement fully reads.