Travel News

Nigeria-UAE row: Why it’ll be unreasonable to retain Air Peace slots at Sharjah Airport - Emirati minister - PUNCH

DECEMBER 11, 2021

BY  Kayode Oyero

With the ongoing diplomatic fireworks between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, the Emirati Minister of Economy, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, has said that it is unreasonable for the Arab nation to retain the slots of Nigeria-based Air Peace airline at the Sharjah International Airport.

The minister, who is also the chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority in the UAE, described as unjust, the decision of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to withdraw its approval for Emirates Airline winter schedule, cutting down the carrier’s passenger flights to just once a week.

Al Marri made this known in a letter penned on December 10, 2021, and addressed to the Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The Nigerian Government had on Thursday, in a letter through the NCAA Director-General, Musa Nuhu, whittled the flights of Emirates Airlines to just one per week.

Nigeria had about a week ago lifted the ban on Emirates Airline’s flights to Nigeria after suspending the carrier from operating into Nigeria for several months earlier, due to concerns over UAE carrier’s requirements in the management of COVID-19.

Nuhu had stated that following the lifting of the ban, the UAE-based airline applied to the Federal Ministry of Aviation for approval of its winter flight schedule, consisting of 21 weekly passenger flight frequencies to Nigeria, noting that Nigeria approved the schedule in the spirit and intent of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between both countries.

He had, however, expressed dissatisfaction that Air Peace Airlines, the only Nigerian airline that operates passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport in the UAE, requested three weekly passenger flight frequencies but was granted only one.

Subsequently, Emirates Airline on Friday announced the suspension of its flights to Nigeria, attributing its decision to the NCAA policy limiting its operation in the country to one flight per week.

Nigeria currently has signed BASAs with over 90 countries including the UAE. However, over the years, stakeholders have lamented that most air agreements between Nigeria and other countries have been one-sided as Nigerian airlines have been unable to reciprocate the agreements due to what they termed, “aero-politics”.

Currently, over 25 foreign airlines operate flights into Nigeria; some daily, from multiple destinations. While only one Nigerian airline operates internationally, while one or two others operate on regional routes.

According to Sirika, Nigeria signed its BASA with the UAE in December 2017 and Nigeria-based Medview Airlines had commenced direct flights from Lagos to Dubai via Abuja but the operations had hit the rocks when the airline faced a crisis.

While Emirates Airline has been plying multiple frequencies to-and-fro the Abuja and Lagos airports, no Nigerian airline operated the routes for years after Medview Airlines’ short stint until recently when Air Peace reactivated the route.

UAE, especially, Dubai, is a top destination among Nigerian migrants. A percentage of Nigerian vibrant youthful population finds the middle east nation attractive. Nigerian elite and bourgeoisie also find the tourism hotspots in the gulf state appealing. Many Nigerian politicians have also been reported to own properties in the UAE while international internet fraudsters including Abass Ramon aka Hushpuppi had been arrested in their havens in Dubai.

Read Emirati minister’s full letter addressed to the Nigerian aviation minister:


The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) presents its compliments to the Federal Ministry of Aviation (FMA) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and has the honour to refer to the letter Ref. No. NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/329 dated 9th December 2021, whereby the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) notified the Country Manager, Emirates Airline (EK) in Nigeria regarding the withdrawal of the ministerial approval granted to that airline with respect to their Winter Schedule. The NCAA further advised EK that this withdrawal becomes effective on Sunday 12th December 2021 at 2300Z and hence, EK “is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays”.

The GCAA has the honour to highlight that such a decision by the NCAA is totally unjustified especially, as it has come to our attention that their action is being taken against the background of Air Peace not securing all 3 slots at Sharjah Airport which they desire. (Air Peace initially operated at Sharjah Airport, shifted to Dubai Airport and then returned to Sharjah airport. It would be unreasonable for an airline to expect any airport to maintain their slots when they ceased operating at that airport.) In this regard, we wish to kindly advise you. that Sharjah Airport is currently operating at 140% slot capacity, but with goodwill and tremendous effort on their Side, this Airport was able to accommodate Air Peace with 1 of the 3 slots that this airline requested.

The GCAA wishes to stress that the action being taken by the NCAA is obviously not in line with the spirit of the agreed air services arrangements between our two Nations. As we are both aware, the relations between our two brotherly countries are vintage in nature, one hallmark being the recent visit of the President of Nigeria to the UAE, which certainly mirrored the status of these positive relations.

Finally, we suggest that Air Peace should consider flying their two other flights to any UAE airport at which there are available slots. As expected, the GCAA will support Air Peace in this activity, where required.

Your Excellency, your kind support is anticipated so that the NCAA reviews their decision and restores the approval of the Emirates Airline Winter Schedule, as filed. In this regard, we wish to reiterate that this is a purely operational matter between Air Peace and Sharjah Airport and in any case it should have absolutely no implications for Emirates Airline.

Stadium Flyover in Surulere, Lagos reopens to traffic on Sunday - NAN

DECEMBER 11, 2021

The Stadium Flyover in Surulere, Lagos reopens to traffic on Sunday, Dec. 12.

Lagos State Government announced this on Saturday after approving the completion of rehabilitation works on the facility.

Mr Lateef Shomide, Director, Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation, Lagos State Ministry of Works told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that replacement of expansion joints on the flyover had been completed.

Shomide said debris generated as a result of the rehabilitation was being cleared to effect the re-opening of the highway to traffic.

“The Alaka-Stadium flyover closed to traffic will soon be opened.

“We have closed it for about three weeks. By the grace of God all things being equal by Sunday we should be able to open the bridge for public use,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the rehabilitation works was carried out on the Funsho Williams, Costain-bound carriageway. (NAN)

Canada urged to lift travel ban on several African countries, focus on vaccine equity - KTVZ

DECEMBER 11, 2021

By Michael Lee, CTVNews.ca writer

    TORONTO, Ontario (CTV Network) — Calls continue for Canada to lift travel restrictions placed on a number of African countries in response to the Omicron variant and make efforts to improve vaccine equity around the world.

Akwatu Khenti, chair of the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity, expressed his concerns with the federal government’s policy during an interview with CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.

Foreign nationals who have been to Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe 14 days prior are currently not permitted entry into Canada.

Khenti says, while he understood the initial rationale to essentially protect the Canadian population at all costs, Omicron has now spread around the world to multiple continents and dozens of countries — including Canada.

“It’s no longer needed, if it ever was,” he said. “Canada should remove the travel ban as soon as possible.”

Khenti, an assistant professor with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, says he would rather see a coordinated approach that leads to meaningful vaccine equity and makes addressing low vaccination rates in lower-income countries a priority.

Low vaccinations create an “incubator for mutations,” he said.

“And this policy, that’s the ultimate consequence, which is a racial consequence by the way.”

Canada has promised to donate, through financial support or direct doses, the equivalent of at least 200 million doses to COVAX, the World Health Organization’s vaccine donation program for lower-income countries.

As of Dec. 5, around 9.1 million doses had been shipped.

Khenti says, along with fulfilling its promise to deliver doses, Canada also needs to support the waiver of intellectual property for COVID-19 vaccines and help address vaccine hesitancy.

“It’s not just about supply, it’s also about access and that access it’s technology, the access is comfort, the access is communication, and we can do it.”

He says the world’s expertise and resources were marshalled to develop a scientific miracle.

“We need an equity miracle and I believe it’s entirely possible.”

Why We Withdrew Extra Frequencies Approval To Emirates Airlines – DG NCAA - INDEPENDENT

DECEMBER 11, 2021


LAGOS – The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has clarified why it withdrew the ministerial approval granted Emirates Airlines by the Ministry of Aviation.

With the withdrawal, which takes effect from December 12, 2021, Emirates Airlines can now fly into Abuja (Nigeria) just once weekly on Thursdays, while its Lagos flight is suspended.

Speaking with our correspondent on Friday, Capt. Musa Nuhu, the Director-General of NCAA, said that it withdrew the approval following the refusal of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to grant equal rights to the sole Nigerian carrier, Air Peace flying to Dubai via Sharjah.

Nuhu explained that Sen. Hadi Sirika, the Minister of Aviation had graciously granted Emirates Airlines 21 frequencies weekly to two major airports in Nigeria; Lagos, 14 and Abuja, seven.

He regretted that despite this approval, the GCAA refused to grant Air Peace three weekly frequencies to Sharjah, which the airline requested for, rather approved just one frequency weekly.

According to him, the GCAA had attributed its refusal to grant the three frequencies to the airline to inadequate slots in Sharjah airport, stressing that the government would continue to protect Nigeria’s businesses.

He said: “The Nigerian Government was gracious to grant Emirates Airlines 21 frequencies it requested for. The airline wants to operate 14 weekly flights to Lagos and another seven weekly to Abuja airports.

“However, Air Peace only requested for three weekly flights to Sharjah, not even Dubai airport, but the CAA refused the airline. The CAA only approved one weekly frequency to the airline. The only excused they gave was that they don’t have enough slots. Where is the justice in this? That is capital flight out of Nigeria. Nigeria should protect its own.”

NCAA had in a letter with the reference number: NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/329, dated December 9, 2021 with the head: ‘Withdrawal of Ministerial Approval of Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule,’ and signed by Nuhu to the Country Manager, Emirates Airlines withdrew the initial approval granted the airline.

The letter read: “I write 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/ATMO/501/C.104/XV/356 dated 1st December 2021. The withdrawal becomes effective on Sunday 12th December 2021 at 23002.

“Please kindly note, henceforth Emirates Airlines is granted approval to operate only one weekly passenger frequency to Abuja on Thursdays.”

Omicron: FG to ban flights from UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Argentina - PUNCH

DECEMBER 12, 2021

BY Okechukwu Nnodim

The Federal Government is to ban flights from the United Kingdom, Canada, Argentina and Saudi Arabia in retaliation against their decisions to have included Nigeria in red list countries.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this in a leaked audio, where he revealed that the ban on the three nations would be announced on Monday or Tuesday by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19.

The Federal Government had repeatedly kicked against the ban on Nigeria by the UK, Canada and Saudi Arabia after the outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

In the leaked audio, Sirika was providing explanations on why the Federal Government reduced Emirates Airlines daily flights into Nigeria to only one weekly flight, and went ahead to stress that countries that placed Nigeria on red list would receive similar fate from Nigeria.

He said, “Also, there is a case of Saudi Arabia, which put Nigeria on the banned list – no visa, no travel, etc. So also Canada. So, today, there was a meeting, I participated in a zoom meeting, COVID-19 task force, just for your information also.

“We have given our input in aviation, it is not acceptable by us and we recommend that those countries – Canada, the UK, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina be also put on red list, as they did similarly to us.

“If they don’t allow our citizens to go into their countries who are their airlines coming to pick from our country?

The minister added, “So, I am very sure that in the next few days, between now and Monday, or perhaps Tuesday, at maximum, all those countries will be put on the red list from the PSC (Presidential Steering Committee) from the task force of COVID-19.

“Once they are put on the red list, which means they are banned, of course, their airlines will be banned. I’m so sorry, we are going through a difficult moment, but we have to do it in the interest of our country.”

The outbreak of COVID-19 had led to various forms of disagreements between the Federal Government and some nations, particularly in the aviation sector.

On Friday, for instance, The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government on Thursday withdrew its approval of Emirates Airlines winter schedule, cutting down the carriers daily flights to Abuja to just one day in a week after discussions with the United Arab Emirates did not go as planned.

Nigeria plans reciprocal flights ban on four countries over Omicron - REUTERS

DECEMBER 12, 2021

ABUJA, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Nigeria plans to ban flights from Argentina, Britain, Canada and Saudi Arabia from this week in retaliation for being added to those countries' red lists over the detection of the Omicron coronavirus variant last month, the aviation minister said.

Several countries have restricted the movement of people from some African nations since the Omicron variant was first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong. It has since spread to at least 57 countries.

In recorded comments shared with journalists on Sunday, Nigeria's aviation minister Hadi Sirika said he had recommended that the four countries should be placed on a COVID-19 "red list," which would entail a ban on flights.

"We have given our input as aviation that it is not acceptable by us and we recommend that those countries, Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia and Argentina be also put on red list, just like they did similarly to us," Sirika said.

"So, I am very sure between now and Monday or perhaps Tuesday maximum, all those countries will be put on the red list. Once they are on the red list, which means they are banned, their airlines will also be banned."

Britain was the first country to announce a travel "red list", which Nigeria has described as unjust and unfair.

The World Health Organization has said countries should apply an "evidence-informed and risk-based approach" when deciding on travel measures related to Omicron, including possible screening or quarantine of international passengers, adding that blanket bans do not prevent its spread. read more

Writing by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Editing by Barbara Lewis

Travel Ban: Nigeria’s Plan To Red List UK, Others Not Tit-For-Tat, Says Minister - CHANNELS TV

DECEMBER 13, 2021

BY  Rejoice Ewodage and Ignatius Igwe


The Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, has given further insight into the Federal Government’s plan to place on a red list, countries that have placed Nigeria on a red list in the wake of the omicron variant of the COVID-19.

Dr Mamora, who was a guest on Channels TV’s News @ 10, said contrary to claims that the said plan was on a tit-for-tat basis, the move was only expected to be in the best interest of the country.

“I don’t want you to look at it from that angle, (the tit-for-tat perception). No, it’s not that,” he stated. “In international diplomacy, I am aware that you have what we call the principle of reciprocity in which case you want to act in a reciprocal manner that another country has acted.

“But most importantly, in all these, is that as a sovereign state we have every right to determine what is best for us in terms of our interest.

“Whichever way we act, it is in consonance with what we take to be in our own best interest. So it is not an issue of tit-for-tat. It’s been done in the best interest of our country.” 

The minister also spoke about the exit of many medical practitioners from the country in search of greener pastures abroad.

According to him, health workers consider remuneration, conducive environment, available equipment, among other factors before leaving the shores of Nigeria.

Mamora, however, stated that the Federal Government was working closely with relevant bodies to address the issues that force medical doctors and nurses to leave the country.

“Issues of remuneration, incentives, allowances; all these come into play and must be factored in a manner as to make that system sustainable,” he said. “We are looking at all these in totality to ensure that our health personnel will remain.

“But the fact still remains that irrespective of what you do, in the spirit of adventure, there are some people who will still want to leave and we may not have much to do.”

U.K. Set to Be Added to Hong Kong’s Highest-Risk List, SCMP Says - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 13, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong residents returning from the U.K. will be required to spend their first week at a government quarantine center as the city tightens entry rules amid mounting concerns over the omicron variant, according to a report from the South China Morning Post.

The U.K. will be moved to a category that calls for the strictest measures in which travelers must spend one week at the Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre, followed by 14 days in a designated hotel, according to the SMCP, which cited an unidentified source. An announcement is expected later Monday, the paper reported.

The U.K. joins the U.S., along with some African countries, in facing the measures. The U.S. was added to the category last Friday, and the new rules take effect today for travelers from the country.

The moves underscore a knee-jerk approach toward dealing with the virus that’s coming under growing criticism and out of sync with global trends. They signal the eagerness of the local government to align itself with China’s strict Covid-zero policies in hopes of reopening the mainland border, the city’s main economic lifeline.

Hong Kong’s 21-day quarantine policy is even more aggressive than what’s practiced in some areas in China; researchers associated with the Guangdong Provincial Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention said in a study on Covid data prior to omicron that isolation mandates longer than 14 days are likely “an over-reaction” to the threat.

BREAKING: UAE Stops International Airlines From Boarding Nigerian Passengers To Dubai - INDEPEDENT

DECEMBER 13, 2021

LAGOS – The diplomatic crisis between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is getting worse as the latter has stopped foreign airlines from airlifting Nigerians to its destination (Dubai).

Information gathered by our correspondent this Monday morning indicated that Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Air and other international airlines going to Dubai from their bases refused to board Nigerians whose final destination is the UAE. The airlines it was gathered insisted that they have been directed not to airlift Nigerian passport holders to Dubai.

So far, hundreds of passengers are affected by this directive as Ethiopian Airline a few minutes ago offloaded their Nigerian passengers to Dubai.

”UAE says no entry for Nigerian passengers from any airline. Ethiopian just offloaded all passengers heading to Dubai. We are voiding Dubai bound tickets,” a source at Abuja Airport told our correspondent.

Details later……

FG to place UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia, others on red list today - THE GUARDIAN

DECEMBER 13, 2021

By Wole Oyebade

• Justifies slash on Emirates’ weekly flights
• Emirates fights back, suspends Nigerian flights indefinitely

Barring any last minute change, all eyes are on the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19 to announce the Federal Government’s placement of the United Kingdom (UK), Canada, Saudi Arabia, among others, on a red list, banning both airlines and their citizens from coming into Nigeria.
The action, which is to reciprocate the earlier ban on Nigerians, is the Federal Government’s way of protesting against blanket restriction on Nigerian citizens over the spread of Omicron variant of COVID-19.

This is coming after what seemed a week of wait, political tinkering and cautious study of events.

Last week, the government, in its immediate reaction through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, Sarafa Ishola, rejected Nigeria’s placement on the red list, describing it as ‘travel apartheid’, but chairman of the PSC and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, had said the country won’t be hasty in taking any decisions as it was still reviewing the sanctions.

With increasing condemnation of the travel ban and growing calls for retaliation, The Guardian, yesterday, learnt that the Ministry of Aviation has already recommended to the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 the ban of UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and Singapore for as long as they keep Nigeria on their red list. The Taskforce is due to make the announcement today.

Similarly, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has justified the reduction of Emirates Airlines’ Winter Schedule from 21 to one flight weekly. Sirika said it was in prompt response to United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) denial of three weekly slots requested by Nigerian flag carrier, Air Peace airline.

World airlines have faulted the UK and Canada, among others, over restriction of travellers, saying flight ban had proven incapable of preventing virus spread.

Following the detection of about 17 positive cases of Omicron variant among Nigerian passengers to the UK, the British government had placed an indefinite restriction on all Nigerian citizens, though it does not foreclose both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic from ferrying UK passengers to Nigeria. Canada, Singapore and Saudi Arabia also followed suit.

Sirika, in a notice to aviation professionals, yesterday, said it makes no sense for those countries to declare Nigeria a red zone with Nigerians unacceptable in their country, yet keep flying into Nigeria for economic reasons.

He said: “We have given our input (to Presidential Taskforce) as civil aviation and we have recommended that those countries should also be put on red list like they have done to us. If they don’t allow our citizens to come to their country, who are they coming as airlines to pick in our country?

“So, by Monday, all those countries will be on our red list, which means their airlines too are banned in Nigeria. I’m so sorry we are going through difficult moments but we have to do it in the interest of our country,” Sirika said.

The minister had earlier described UAE’s approval of one slot a week to Air Peace Airline while expecting 21 weekly flight into Nigeria, as an insult on 200 million Nigerians. He said their rationale runs foul of the principles of Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and completely unacceptable to Nigeria.

“We have had a meeting with them (UAE) here in the United States and they insisted on giving Air Peace just one out three weekly slots requested. We told them that we will also review our 21 weekly slot already granted them because by BASA, if you fly 21 times into my country, I should be able to fly into yours 21 times into your country as well. So, they wrote us a letter, a very insulting one, on why they had to give one slot as the best they could do.

“This is very insulting and not acceptable by international treaties. Therefore, I directed that they should also be given just one frequency a week and into Abuja only, beginning from December 13 (today). So, they can only fly into Nigeria on Thursdays. I know they cannot bear the pressure because they have already lost a lot of money. By not coming into the country, we are also loosing the service that they provide and some economic activities.

“But the sovereign of 200 million people is too important to toil with. It is not grandstanding but simply the way things are in civil aviation. It was because we stood our ground for those eight months, that is why they reviewed their operations to come back in obedience to what Nigeria agreed with them ab initio.”

The UAE national carrier only penultimate weekend made a return to Nigerian routes after about nine-month hiatus over disagreement on COVID-19 antigen test between the two countries. Following reconciliation, the FG had approved 21 weekly flights (14 into Lagos; and seven for Abuja) for the UAE carrier.

Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Willie Walsh, said it was not in any country’s interest to keep imposing travel restrictions.

Walsh said after nearly two years with COVID-19, the operators know a lot about the virus and the inability of travel restrictions to control its spread.

“But the discovery of the Omicron variant induced instant amnesia on governments, which implemented knee-jerk restrictions in complete contravention of advice from the WHO—the global expert,” Walsh said.

Emirates Airlines has in turn suspended all its flights to Nigeria indefinitely. Emirates in an update on its website said all its flights to Nigeria would be suspended until the issues between UAE and Nigeria are resolved. It said the action took effect from yesterday (Sunday).

The airline said: “With the recently imposed directive limiting Emirates to operate one flight per week to Nigeria via Abuja, Emirates will be suspending its flights between Nigeria and Dubai from December 13, until the UAE and Nigerian authorities work on a solution to the ongoing issue.

“The last flights to operate on December 12 are EK 783/784 to/from Lagos and EK 785/786 to/from Abuja

“Customers holding tickets with the final destinations Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted at the point of origin. Affected customers do not need to call us immediately for rebooking. Customers can simply hold on to their Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with their travel agent or booking office to make new travel plans.”


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