The United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has dismissed reports that it denied Air Peace landing slots at Sharjah Airport.
This information was revealed in a letter to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been bombarding Nigerians with reports that Emirates has been blacklisted because the UAE refused to provide Air Peace three slots.
However, a letter from the UAE refuted the claim, claiming that Air Peace was awarded the three slots it requested and operated them in Sharjah until the airline voluntarily relocated to Dubai.
The GCCA further stated that because Air Peace’s slots at Sharjah Airport were no longer functioning, they could no longer be maintained.
“The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) presents its compliments to the Federal Ministry of Aviation (FMA) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and has the honour to refer to the letter Ref. No. NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/329 dated 9th December 2021, whereby the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) notified the country manager, Emirates Airline (EK), in Nigeria regarding the withdrawal of the ministerial approval granted to that airline with respect to their Winter Schedule,” explained the UAE. “The NCAA further advised EK that this withdrawal becomes effective on Sunday 12th December 2021 at 2300Z and hence, EK is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays.”
According to the government, Emirates was given 21 weekly slots, 14 to Lagos and seven to Abuja. However, when Air Peace applied for slots in the UAE, it was only offered one of the three spaces it requested.
“The Nigerian government was gracious to grant Emirates Airlines 21 frequencies it requested. The airline wants to operate 14 weekly flights to Lagos and another seven weekly to Abuja airports,” Musa Nuhu, NCAA director-general, told Air Insight last week.
“However, Air Peace only requested three weekly flights to Sharjah, not even Dubai airport, but the GCAA refused the airline. It only approved one weekly frequency to the airline,” the NCAA boss added. “The only excuse they gave was that they don’t have enough slots. Where is the justice in this? That is the capital flight out of Nigeria. Nigeria should protect its own.”
The GCAA highlighted that the NCAA’s decision “is totally unjustified especially, as it has come to our attention that their action is being taken against the background of Air Peace not securing all three slots at Sharjah Airport which they desire.”
Air Peace initially operated at Sharjah Airport, shifted to Dubai Airport and then returned to Sharjah airport,” said the UAE letter. The GCAA further argued that “it would be unreasonable for an airline to expect any airport to maintain their slots when they ceased operating at that airport.”
The UAE letter stressed, “In this regard, we wish to kindly advise you that Sharjah Airport is currently operating at 140% slot capacity, but with goodwill and tremendous effort on their Side, this airport was able to accommodate Air Peace with one of the three slots that this airline requested.”
The GCAA further reiterated that Nigeria’s vindictive ban would not align with the diplomatic agreements on air services between the two countries.
“The GCAA wishes to stress that the action being taken by the NCAA is obviously not in line with the spirit of the agreed air services arrangements between our two nations,” added the letter. “As we are both aware, the relations between our two brotherly countries are vintage in nature, one hallmark being the recent visit of the President of Nigeria to the UAE, which certainly mirrored the status of these positive relations.”
Suing for an end to the crisis, the GCAA stated, “Finally, we suggest that Air Peace should consider flying their two other flights to any UAE airport at which there are available slots. As expected, the GCAA will support Air Peace in this activity, where required.”