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Nigeria-UAE: Airlines operators commend FG’s reciprocity on flight slots allocations

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The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) on Thursday commended Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, for the courageous way he handled the diplomatic row between Nigeria and United Arab Emirates.

The row had to do with flight slots allocation between the two countries’ airlines – Air Peace and Emirates Airlines of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The UAE recently reduced the three weekly flights by Nigeria’s Air Peace into the Sharjah International Airport to just one flight per week while UAE’s carrier, Emirates, operates 21 flights weekly into Lagos and Abuja.

The situation made Sirika to reduce Emirates frequency into Nigeria to just one flight weekly too and to only Abuja.

As a result of the reciprocity, UAE quickly retraced its steps and increased Air Peace’s flight into the country to seven slots per week and into the preferred Dubai Airport instead of Sharjah.

President of AON, the umbrella body of airlines operating in Nigeria, Capt. Abdulmunaf Sarina, gave kudos to the minister and to the Nigerian government in a statement issued at Ikeja.

Sarina noted that by the recent reciprocal action taken by the Federal Government, national sense of pride and belief in the country rose to an all-time high.

“The AON wishes to commend Sen. Sirika, for the courageous way he stood up for the honour, dignity and respect for our sovereignty as a nation on this matter.”

“We commend President Muhammadu Buhari for standing solidly and protectively behind Nigerian airlines and also behind indigenous investments and investors.”

“By the recent reciprocal action taken by the Federal Government, national sense of pride and belief in Nigeria rose to an all-time high,” he stated.

Sarina also expressed gratitude to President Buhari for his unwavering stance on the issue which emboldened Sirika to reciprocate with equal measure the treatment meted out to a Nigerian airline operating into the UAE.

In the same vein, Sarina applauded the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu, for his dogged and courageous actions.

He added that the courage did not leave anyone in doubt about Nuhu’s resolve to do all within his capacity not to allow any country to disrespect Nigeria.

He stressed that AON was not opposed to foreign airlines operating into Nigeria but frowned at the underhand actions of airlines and their countries making it difficult for Nigerian airlines to operate in their countries.

Sarina encouraged the Federal Government to continue to reciprocate, in equal measures, actions of any country that derided Nigeria’s integrity.

Yunus Yusuf

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