The Federal Government has said that it is looking into the letter received from Air Peace, which granted it approval to operate seven weekly frequencies to Dubai International Airport by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), rather than the Sharjah International Airport it applied for in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) stated this in an interview with aviation journalists on Monday at the Aviation House of the regulatory agency at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.
According to Nuhu, the Air Peace had sent to the Ministry a letter that emanated from the DCAA, which approved seven weekly frequencies to the airline, stressing that the letter was forwarded to it through Mr. Allen Onyema, the Chairman of Air Peace.
The UAE GCAA had earlier refused Air Peace three slots it requested for to operate to Sharjah Airport and only granted approval for one frequency, citing inadequate slots at Sharjah Airport.
The Dubai Civil Aviation Authority in a letter dated December 13th, to the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema entitled, ‘Operations of Air Services between Dubai and Nigeria,’ signed by the DCAA Director-General, Mohammed A. Ahli stated that, “Relations between our two countries go a long way back and we value these relations immensely. We surely wish to facilitate easy and safe travel for the people, between our two brotherly countries.
“We write in reference to Air Peace’s possible/intended operations to/from Dubai Airports (DXB). We have received information from Dubai Airports with regard to slot availability at DXB –Terminal 1 and as a gesture of goodwill and in support of UAE and Nigeria relations, in case Air Peace wish to start their flights, slots have been blocked by Dubai Airports as A0540LT D0800LT- All days except day six.”
Nuhu said that the government has told the UAE Government to write officially to the Nigerian Government through the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries.
Nuhu said: “In UAE, we have the GCAA and each of the Emirates has its own CAA. Later, the Dubai CAA wrote to Air Peace and told the airline that it has seven slots reserved for it at Dubai Airport. So, the CEO of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, showed the letter to the Minister and we said Air Peace is designated to outside Nigeria based on the flight rules and Emirates is designated by the UAE Government under the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) arrangement and we concluded that is what we are going to do.
“We told them to write to Nigeria officially. It is important to have all these officially. So, the Nigerian Government is ready to allow the operations start through the proper diplomatic channel. The Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs has written to the Foreign Affairs of UAE to confirm officially if the letter was from them. Then, we will see where we go from there. It is important to have this fairness, transparent and equity.
“The government needs to protect Nigerian businesses and Air Peace is one of the designated carriers from Nigeria. If we allow other airlines to come and take all the juicy slots, we are shooting ourselves in the leg.”
Nuhu further expressed optimism that the domestic operation in Nigeria has returned to the pre-Covid-19 state, adding that the international scene was also recovering gradually.
Right now, he said no fewer than 10 aircraft are on the wetlease in the domestic market to fill in the vacuum.
“So, the industry has done fairly well. The domestic industry is going in a fantabulous rate. We have given a lot of Air Operators’ Certificates (AOC) and we still have about 15 in the pipeline. We are working on it.
“We have airports propping up all over the place and a lot of maintenance organisations coming up. For us to achieve the growth we have now, we (agencies, ministries, stakeholders and the media) be doing something right that is building investors’ confidence in the system. The investors are willing to put their money in the system and grow the industry,” he said.