By Lawani Mikairu
Airline Operators of Nigeria, AON, the umbrella body of all airlines in Nigeria, Wednesday commended the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, for the courageous way he handled the diplomatic row between Nigeria and Dubai on flight slot allocation between the two countries airlines.
This is just as AON in a statement issued yesterday (Wednesday) expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his unwavering stance on the issue which emboldened the Minister of Aviation to reciprocate with equal measures the treatment meted out to Air Peace, a Nigerian flag carrier.
The statement read : “The AON wishes to commend the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Abubakar Sirika, for the courageous way he stood up for the honour, dignity and respect to our sovereignty as a nation on this matter”. “AON is not unmindful of the leading roles the Minister played in getting our dear President to sign the Customs Duty and VAT waivers into law immediately the National Assembly passed the bill”.
“We commend President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for standing solidly and protectively behind not only Nigerian airlines but also indigenous investments and investors in Nigeria.
“By the recent reciprocal actions undertaken by the Federal Government, National sense of pride and belief in Nigeria rose to an all-time high”.
In the same vein, the airline operators also commended the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, for his dogged and courageous actions which did not leave anyone in doubt about his resolve to do all within his capacity not to allow any country disrespect Nigeria.
The AON further said that it is not opposed to other foreign airlines operating into Nigeria but it frowns at the underhand actions of these airlines and their countries in making it difficult for Nigerian airlines to get the necessary permits to operate in their countries.
Recalled that the Dubai authority recently reduced the three weekly flights operated by Nigeria’s Air Peace into the Sharjah International Airport to just one flight per week while Dubai carrier, Emirates, operates twenty-one flights weekly into Nigeria, a situation that led the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to reduce Emirates frequency into Nigeria to just one flight weekly too.
As a result of Nigeria’s reaction, the Dubai authorities have not only granted seven slots per week to Air Peace but have granted the Nigerian carrier the slots to operate from the preferred Dubai Airport instead of Sharjah.
“We encourage the Federal government of Nigeria to continue to reciprocate, in equal measures, against any country that tries, in any manner whatsoever, to disrespect our sovereignty again”, the airlines body added.