By Chinelo Obogo
The umbrella body all airlines in Nigeria, Airline Operators of Nigeria(AON), has commended the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for supporting domestic businesses in the diplomatic row between Nigeria and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The body expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for his unwavering stance on the issue which emboldened the Minister of Aviation to reciprocate with equal measures the treatment meted out to Air Peace, a Nigerian airline operating into the UAE.
“The AON wishes to commend the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for the courageous way he stood up for the honour, dignity and respect to our sovereignty as a nation on this matter.
“AON is not unmindful of the leading role the Minister played in getting President Buhari to sign the Customs Duty and VAT waivers into law immediately the National Assembly passed the bill. We commend President Muhammadu Buhari’s government for standing solidly behind not only Nigerian airlines but also indigenous investments and investors in Nigeria.
“By the recent reciprocal actions undertaken by the Federal Government, the national sense of pride and belief in Nigeria rose to an all-time high,” a statement by the association read.
In the same vein, the airline operators commended the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority(NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, for his actions which they said did not leave anyone in doubt about his resolve to do all within his capacity not to allow any country disrespect Nigeria.
The AON stressed that it is not opposed to other foreign airlines operating into Nigeria but added that it frowns on the underhand actions of these airlines and their countries in making it difficult for Nigerian airlines to get the necessary permits to operate in their countries.
It would be recalled that the UAE recently reduced the three weekly flights operated by Nigeria’s Air Peace into the Sharjah International Airport to just one flight per week while UAE’s carrier, Emirates, operates twenty-one flights weekly into Nigeria, a situation that caused the Federal Government to reduce Emirates’ frequency into Nigeria to just one flight weekly.
As a result of this action, the UAE authorities have not only granted seven slots per week to Air Peace but have granted the Nigerian carrier the slots to operate from the preferred Dubai Airport instead of Sharjah.
The AON went on to state, “We encourage the Federal government of Nigeria to continue to reciprocate, in equal measures, against any country that tries, in any manner whatsoever, to disrespect our sovereignty again”, the body stated.