Nigeria’s Air Peace Airlines has been approved by the UAE government to operate direct flights to and from Dubai, signifying a potential mending of relations between the two countries.
Festus Keyamo, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, shared this news after attending the 2023 Dubai Airshow, where he explored opportunities for Nigeria’s aviation industry.
Additionally, Emirates Airlines, which halted its operations in Nigeria due to challenges in repatriating earnings, expressed its intention to resume direct flights to Nigeria. This announcement came after Keyamo’s discussions with the airline officials during the Dubai Airshow.
The Head of Press and Public Affairs in Nigeria’s Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Odutayo Oluseyi, conveyed Keyamo’s interactions with Emirates and Dana Hatcic, the CEO of Airline Executive. Hatcic’s company expressed interest in establishing an MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul) facility in Nigeria.
“Using the opportunity of the Airshow, the Honourable Minister on the sidelines met with officials of Emirates Airline to further discuss the resumption of flights by the Airline to Nigeria which has yielded positive results as the management has given assurance that the resumption of the flight would commence very soon,” Oluseyi partly said.
The statement highlighted the minister’s aspirations for a potential inaugural Nigeria Air Show in November 2024, aiming for Nigeria to host the first such event in Africa.
Keyamo utilized his visit to the Dubai Airshow to explore modern technologies in the aviation and aerospace industries. His focus is said to be on aligning these innovations with Nigeria’s aviation goals, including infrastructure enhancement and fostering innovation and creativity.
The Dubai Airshow, which ran from November 13 to November 17, drew participants from global aviation and aerospace sectors, showcasing cutting-edge developments and hosting industry specialists from various countries.
This positive shift in relations and business developments at the airshow could pave the way for improved connectivity and collaborations between Nigeria and the UAE in the aviation sector.
Nigeria’s relationship with the UAE has soured in recent times, with airlines from both countries being restricted, while some withdrew aviation services in response to issues ranging from the inability to repatriate earnings to diplomatic falloffs. The Emirates suspended its operation in Nigeria in 2022.
In 2021, Air Peace Airlines, the only Nigerian airline that operates passenger flights to UAE, requested 3 weekly passenger flight frequencies and was granted only one weekly passenger flight frequency.
This is after the Minister of Aviation graciously approved the Winter schedule of Emirates, consisting of 21 weekly passenger flight frequencies to Nigeria, without any hindrances in the spirit and intent of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and UAE.
The Minister then decided to apply the principle of reciprocity and withdraw the approval given to Emirates Airlines and instead approve one weekly flight frequency.
In September 2022, it was revealed that the UAE had placed Nigerians under the age of 40 under a visa ban, a situation which later escalated to the restriction of work visas to Nigerians.
President Tinubu’s administration said it is working with the UAE authorities to resolve the disputes. But talks by both governments to amend their relationship and restore bilateral activities to normal have not yielded fruitful results. In September, the Nigerian government announced that the UAE has lifted visa restrictions imposed on Nigerians. The UAE government denied it did.