The Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu said the face-off between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that has led to flight suspension between both nations is being handled by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, stressing that the country was still holding strong to its position.
He disclosed that he was aware that the Foreign Affairs Ministry had written to the UAE’s Foreign Ministry with a view to knowing where to go from there. Nigeria and UAE are embroiled in a bitter diplomatic feud.
The feud escalated when UAE surreptitiously denied Nigeria’s flag carrier airline, Air Peace three requested frequencies into Dubai. The UAE subjected the carrier to just one flight which forced the NCAA to cut Emirates flights from 21 frequencies to just one to Abuja.
Piqued by the situation, Emirates immediately withdrew its services on the lucrative Dubai-Lagos- Abuja route as the carrier’s one restricted flight was rejected outright.
For now, both Emirates and Nigeria are said to have lost several millions of dollars as a result of the imbroglio. Just last week, Dubai’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) made a concession of six weekly flights to Air Peace under some strict conditions.
The airline is yet to accept the offer. While the NCAA and the Ministry of Aviation are yet to respond to the offer from the UAE granting Air Peace six weekly flights to Dubai. Capt. Nuhu, who spoke in his office yesterday, said it is fair to defend Nigerian businesses, stressing that that is the only way the country can make Nigerian carriers grow and become global competitors.
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His words: “Let them (UAE) write to Nigeria that under the Nigeria /UAE BASA that Air Peace will fly seven slots.
You know it is important to have this officially and on record, that this is the agreement we have, so the government is ready to let that operation start if we get the communication, through the proper diplomatic channels. I know the Foreign Affairs Ministry has written to our sister.”
The Nigerian aviation regulatory body equally stated that the country was working on instituting slot systems within its airports as part of efforts to reciprocate some of the imbalances in the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) signed with some nations.
This is just as he spoke on the current impasse between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stating that once official communication is received through the right diplomatic channel, both Nigeria’s airline Air Peace and the UAE’s Emirates Airline can commence flight services.
He decried the attitude of some nations hiding under slot controversies to perpetuate unfair commercial advantages to foreign airlines over Nigerian airlines, noting that the principle of reciprocity would be applied to curb what he termed his subtle armtwisting.
According to him, the only way to grow the nation’s airlines is to protect them against such practices and ensure that the nation does not cede its most juicy routes for second-tier destinations placing its own carriers at a disadvantage