By Oludare Mayowa
Against the backdrop of recent diplomatic altercation between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Emirates Airlines said it will suspend its flight operations to and from Nigeria as from Monday December 13.
In a statement, the UAE biggest carrier said it last flight to operate into Nigeria on December 12 “are EK 783/784 to/from Lagos and EK 785/786 to/from Abuja.”
The Airlines attributed its decision to suspend flight operations to the recent imposed directive limiting its operation to one flight per week to Nigeria via Abuja.
“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, until the UAE and Nigerian authorities work on a solution to the ongoing issue.
“The last flights to operate on 12 December 2021 are EK 783/784 to/from Lagos and EK 785/786 to/from Abuja.
“Customers holding tickets with the final destinations Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted at the point of origin,” the airlines stated in the statement posted on its website.
The federal government in a diplomatic reciprocal action had slashed the flights operations of the Emirates Airlines into the country to once weekly in retaliation against the government of UAE decision to limit the flight operations of Air Peace to Sharjah Airport to once a week.
In a letter titled: “Withdrawal of Ministerial Approval of Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule, dated December 9, 2021 and addressed to the Country Manager, Emirates Airlines Nigeria,” the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) announced the decision of the government to that effect.
“I wish 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/ATMD/501/C.104/XV/536 dated 1st December 2021 at 2300Z.
“Please, kindly note, henceforth Emirates Airlines is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays. Please be guided accordingly,” letter signed by the Director General of NCAA, Musa Nuhu read.
Nigeria and UAE government had been going back and forth over flight operations bettween the two region since the outbreak of Covid-19 last year as the Emirates had insisted that passengers from Nigeria should conduct dual Covid-19 test before they could be allowed into the countries under UAE.
The latest development is a set back on the diplomatic relationships between the two countries, especially in view of the recent visit of Nigeiran President Mohammadu Buhari to Dubai for and exhibition, which promised to restore greater relationships between the two countries.