Emirates Suspends Nigeria Routes Amid Slots Row

Credit: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis/Getty Images

Emirates service to Nigeria has again been suspended following the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority’s (NCAA) decision to reduce the number of weekly flights the airline can operate to just one.

The Gulf carrier only resumed daily nonstop passenger flights from Dubai (DXB) to Abuja (ABV) and Lagos (LOS) on Dec. 5 after Nigeria’s government lifted a ban placed on the airline over COVID-19 protocol.

However, permission for daily service has since been withdrawn and the carrier will be limited to operating one passenger flight to Abuja per week. In response, Emirates has suspended all flights to Nigeria indefinitely from Dec. 13.

In a statement, the Dubai-based airline said service would remain on hold until authorities in the United Arab Emirates and Nigeria “work on a solution to the ongoing issue.”

“Emirates is committed to its operations in Nigeria, and we stand ready to reinstate services once restrictions are lifted by the Nigerian authorities,” the carrier added.

The Nigerian government’s directive to reduce the number of flights Emirates is allowed to operate comes amid a dispute with the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

The NCAA said that although it has granted permission for Emirates to offer 21X-weekly flights to Nigeria, the GCAA has only authorized Nigerian carrier Air Peace one service per week to Sharjah (SHJ), rather than the three that had been requested.

“Air Peace only requested for three weekly flights to Sharjah, not even Dubai, but the GCAA refused the airline,” NCAA Director General Musa Nuhu said. “The only excuse they gave was that they don’t have enough slots. Where is the justice in this?”

In response, the GCAA said: “Air Peace initially operated at Sharjah Airport, shifted to Dubai Airport and then returned to Sharjah Airport. It would be unreasonable for an airline to expect any airport to maintain their slots when they ceased operating at that airport.

“In this regard, we wish to kindly advise you that Sharjah Airport is currently operating at 140% slot capacity, but with goodwill and the tremendous effort on their side, this airport was able to accommodate Air Peace with one of the three slots that this airline requested.”

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.