…As Ethiopian airline denies Nigerians boarding
By Lawani Mikairu
The face-off between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, UAE, over allocation of flight frequencies to each country’s flag carriers, Air Peace airline and Emirates airline took a dramatic twist yesterday, with the Gulf country directing foreign airlines not to bring Nigerians to its territories.
Consequently, Nigerian passengers were denied boarding on Ethiopian Airline at the Muritala Muhammed International airport, Lagos yesterday.
Sources also confirmed yesterday that Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Air, and other international airlines going to Dubai from their bases have also been directed not to board any passenger with Nigerian passport whose final destination is Dubai, UAE.
There were, however, indications yesterday that the Federal Government was preparing to react appropriately to the latest move by United Arab Emirates.
Although the Director of Public Affairs of the Ministry, Dr James Odaudu, said he was very busy when contacted yesterday, feelers from the Ministry indicated that the federal government was preparing a comprehensive response to the UAE latest onslaught.
Also speaking on the issue, the General Manager Corporate Affairs, Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, said the agency was waiting for directives from the Ministry of Aviation.
“ This is a diplomatic row between Nigeria and United Arab Emirates. It is within the purview of the Ministry of Aviation to react and give directives to NCAA. We are waiting for the directives from the Ministry,” Adurogboye told Vanguard.
Recall that on Friday, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, canceled the 21 frequencies earlier given to Emirates and restricted it to one flight to Abuja every week.
This was Nigeria’s reaction to UAE’s denial of Air Peace its three weekly frequencies to Sharjah, UAE the airline requested for.
While announcing the withdrawal of earlier granted approval on Friday night, the Director General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority,NCAA , Captain Musa Nuhu, had in a letter with the reference number: NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/329, dated December 9, 2021, entitled ‘’Withdrawal of Ministerial Approval of Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule,’’ and addressed to the Country Manager, Emirates Airlines, withdrew the initial approval granted the airline.
The letter read: “I write to inform you of the withdrawal of the approval granted to Emirates Airlines winter schedule. This approval was conveyed via a letter with reference number FMA/ATMO/501/C.104/XV/356, dated December 1, 2021. The withdrawal becomes effective on Sunday, December 12, 2021 at 2302.
“Please kindly note, henceforth, Emirates Airlines is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays.”
Emirates also on Friday reacted by unilaterally suspending flights to Nigeria. The airline had said: “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 December 13, 2021.