The aviation row between Nigeria and United Arab Emirates (UAE) deepened on Friday as Emirates Airline has announced the suspension of all flights to the country.
The airline said the suspension is a retaliatory action against the government of Nigeria for reducing the frequencies of flights, following a restriction by the Nigerian government limiting its flights to the country to just once a week.
The Dubai-based airline noted that the suspension of flight operations to Nigeria will be indefinite and will take effect from December 15, 2021.
This was contained in a statement issued by the air carrier, late Friday.
The statement reads, “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 13 December 2021, until the UAE and Nigerian authorities work on a solution to the ongoing issue.
“The last flights to operate on 12 December 2021are 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.
“Affected customers do not need to call us immediately for rebooking. Customers can simply hold on to their Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with their travel agent or booking office to make new travel plans.
“Emirates regrets any inconvenience caused. Emirates is committed to its operations in Nigeria, and we stand ready to reinstate services once restrictions are lifted by the Nigerian authorities, ensuring travellers have more choice and access to trade and tourism opportunities in Dubai, and beyond to our network of over 120 destinations.”
Earlier, the Federal Government had on Thursday withdrawn its approval for Emirates Airlines winter schedule, cutting down the carrier’s daily flights to Abuja to just once a week.
This was disclosed this in a letter dated December 9, 2021 and signed by the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu.
The letter reads in part, “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 December 1, 2021.
“This withdrawal becomes effective on Sunday, December 12, 2021, at 2300h. Please kindly note, henceforth, Emirates Airlines is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays.
“Please be guided accordingly. Do accept the assurances of my highest regards.”
Before this latest debacle, the Federal Government through the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had lifted the suspension placed on the Emirates Airline after 10 months of disagreement between Nigeria and UAE over Covid-19 protocol.