From Uche Usim, Abuja
Barely a week after approving Emirates’ return to full services in Nigeria, the Federal Government on Thursday night wrote the Dubai-based airline that its winter service out of Abuja has been reduced to once a week.
The decision was conveyed in a letter dated December 9, 2021, issued to the Country Manager, Emirates Airlines Nigeria, Victoria Island, Lagos, and signed by the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu.
The letter with reference NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/329 and titled ‘Withdrawal of Ministerial Approval of Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule’, advised the airline to stick faithfully to the new rule.
The letter read in part, “I wish to inform you of the withdrawal of the approval granted to Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule. This approval was conveyed via a letter with reference number FMA/ATMD/501/C.104/XV/536 dated December 1 2021.
“This withdrawal becomes effective on Sunday, December 12, 2021 at 2300h. Please kindly note, henceforth, Emirates Airlines is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays.
“Please be guided accordingly. Do accept the assurances of my highest regards.”
Copied in the letter were the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, and the Director-General, General Authority of Civil Aviation, United Arab Emirates.
Months back, Emirates suspended direct flights to Nigeria owing to a disagreement with Nigerian authorities on modalities for COVID-19 testing.
The Nigerian government on its part stopped Emirates from subjecting Nigerian travellers to additional rapid antigen tests, against its stipulated negative PCR tests at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.
Emirates then halted flights to and from Nigeria. But flights resumed after talks between authorities of the aviation ministry and Emirates Airlines. Emirates, however, continued to conduct tests on passengers before departure from Nigeria.
The decision irked Nigerian authorities and consequently suspended the airline from flying to and from Nigeria.
Emirates initially said it was going to resume flights on June 23. But it said in a statement that month that it was suspending its to and fro Nigeria from June 21 without setting a resumption. Several resumption dates have been announced and later cancelled.