Travel News

UAE backs down, concedes seven flight slots to Air Peace - THE NATION

DECEMBER 14, 2021

By Kelvin Osa Okunbor and Bolaji Ogundele, Abuja

The frosty diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over travel restrictions escalated yesterday.

The UAE authorities directed airlines not to fly any passenger with Nigeria’s international passport into its airports, it was learnt.

But, the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19  has assured Nigerians that the Federal Government was working assiduously to ensure that the flight restrictions were lifted in about a week.

The UAE’s latest directive, which appears to be a response to Nigeria’s decision to stop flights from the oil-rich Arab country, affects Nigerian passport holders across the globe. The ban may result into heavy losses to both countries as it may affect international trade between them.

It was learnt that UAE may go a step further in tightening the noose by introducing stringent rules for visa applications for Nigerians desirous of visiting Dubai for medicals, tourism, and business.

Aviation sources also linked the order not to fly Nigerians to the reduction of Emirates weekly flights into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos from 21 to only one.

Emirates is UAE’s national carrier.

The Middle East country had earlier denied the Nigerian flag carrier airline – Air Peace- from operating to Sharjah, near Dubai, three times a week.

The Arab country had last week joined the United Kingdom(UK), Canada, and Argentina in putting Nigeria on the red lists of countries with positive cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19. With the addition, all flights from Nigeria into the four countries were banned.

The Federal Government, which had asked the countries to rescind the ban on Sunday, announced that it would also bar flights from their airports as from today. But yesterday, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika said the government  had decided to wait till next week to see if the four countries would lift the ban or not.

Sources said airlines like Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Air, and other international carriers connecting transit flights from their headquarters/hubs into Dubai are already refusing to board Nigerians.

Ethiopian Airlines yesterday declined to fly Nigerian passengers to Dubai, according to sources.

A travel agent, who spoke on the development at the MMIA, said the passengers were shocked when told that the UAE had instructed airlines not to pick passengers from Nigeria through their hubs.

He said: “One of our customers at the airport (MMIA), who was about to board Ethiopian Airlines, told us that the airline said that flights have been banned from Nigeria to Dubai. So no entry for Nigerian passengers from any airline.”

Aviation security consultant Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd) said it was shocking that Ethiopian and other airlines are not allowed to take passengers to Dubai.

“Ethiopian Airlines does not fly or check passengers directly to Dubai, so why deny transiting passengers to Dubai except Nigerians are banned in Dubai. There are many things still hidden in the melee that we need to expose.”

In Abuja, the PSC    said the government has initiated moves to reverse the travel bans on Nigerian travelers.

Its Chairman, Boss Mustapha, also explained that the decision to limit Emirates’ flights was based on international aviation standards, as well as the need to protect the nation’s sovereignty.

Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), spoke during PSC’s briefing yesterday.

He said: “The PSC is working with mandate ministries to address the issues surrounding the restriction imposed by some countries on travelers from Nigeria on account of the Omicron variant. While each country is entitled to put in place measures to protect its citizens, Nigeria has similar responsibilities.

“However, based on existing relationships, Nigeria has initiated diplomatic steps to make these countries reverse their course. This is ongoing in the interest of all parties concerned and we expect that positive results would emerge within the next week.

“The PSC also evaluated the developments on the relationship between Nigeria and the UAE and we are pleased to inform you that the position of the Federal Government is in line with established ICAO Protocols and the spirit of the BASA signed with the UAE.

“Our sovereignty remains paramount and mutual respects shall be our guiding principle in as much as it should be in the best interest of Nigeria.

“The PSC will at its next regular briefing on Monday, 20th December 2021 brief you fully on developments.”

Mustapha added that the PSC had escalated surveillance nationwide to prevent Omicron’s spread.

He said the vaccination of eligible persons was being intensified while arrangements are on for the administration of booster jabs for those already fully vaccinated.

Mustapha said: “With the emergence of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant, now spreading very fast globally, Nigeria has continued to study developments and has deployed science and data to measure the risks to our citizens especially, the dangers of importation.

“The PSC wishes to assure Nigerians that it has escalated all surveillance and control measures around our country. It has similarly ramped up vaccination of eligible citizens and residents while making provisions for booster shots for those fully vaccinated.”

Also, Sirika  said Nigeria seriously believes that the UK, UAE, Canada and Argentina would respond to the requests to lift the travel bans.

He said: “Because it is bilateral country to country, and because Covid-19 is scientific, we believe that science is factual and we believe we are doing it in the interest of humanity to save each other from dying and to fight the virus, we strongly  believe that they respond and delist Nigeria.’

Earlier, the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Esther Sunsuwa had  said that  the government was still consulting on the no-entry order on Nigerian travellers.

“The government was yet to take any action on the matter but I can tell you that consultation is ongoing,” Sunsuwa added.

U.K. Set to Scrap Covid Hotel Quarantines as Soon as Tuesday - BLOOMBERG

DECEMBER 14, 2021


  •  Eleven African nations expected to be removed from red list
  •  Government believes move is logical given spread of omicron

The U.K. is poised to announce as soon as Tuesday the removal of all 11 countries from its so-called Covid-19 red list, ending mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers arriving from the riskiest countries.

Ministers believe the move is logical given the number of omicron cases in the U.K. are doubling every two to three days, a person familiar with the matter said. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new variant would account for the majority of cases in London by Tuesday.

South Africa and nine other nations were placed on the red list last month, followed by Nigeria last week. It means Britons already in those countries must quarantine in designated hotels for 10 days on their return to the U.K. -- at a cost of 2,285 pounds ($3,030) per person or 3,715 pounds per couple.

It also means that people in red-list nations who don’t have U.K. residency rights are banned from coming to Britain. The change in policy is expected to end that ban, with all arrivals from those countries likely to be told to isolate at their own accommodation rather than in government-approved hotels.

Johnson told a Downing Street press conference last week the government would review travel restrictions “given the way omicron’s now seeded around the world, and not just in red-listed countries.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid also hinted at the move last week, telling Parliament: “Very soon, in the days and weeks that lie ahead, if, as I think is likely, we see many more infections and this variant becomes the dominant variant, there will be less need to have any kind of travel restrictions at all.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was among those who criticized the bans, saying the restrictions defied scientific logic. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres branded the rules “travel apartheid.”

Johnson’s government faced anger from travelers who were not only hit with large bills but also struggled to book hotel rooms on the government system, amid accusations ministers had failed to prepare for the policy.

(Updates with context from fourth paragraph)

UAE lifts ban on passengers travelling from Nigeria, Congo into Dubai - THE SUN

DECEMBER 14, 2021

BASA agreement flawed, doesn’t protect domestic airlines – Aviation expert

By Chinelo Obogo, Lagos

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reversed the ban earlier placed on foreign airlines from accepting passengers from Nigeria and Congo which took effect on Monday, December 13, Daily Sun has learned.

Citing the increasing number of Covid-19 positive cases, foreign airlines flying into Dubai had ceased accepting passengers from Nigeria and Congo.

Although no foreign airline gave an official statement on the reason for the development or if initial directive came from the UAE government as a retaliatory measure against Nigeria for withdrawing the frequencies given to Emirates airline, an email seen by Daily Sun which emanated from Ethiopian Airline on Monday, December 13, with the subject: Dubai Travel Restriction Update and reference No. PSA12/068/2021, read: “Due to an increasing number of COVID positive passengers at destination, it is decided to suspend accepting passengers to UAE from Nigeria and Congo DRC only. This is effective December 13, 2021. Please ensure 100 per cent compliance.”

A reliable source within Ethiopian Airline confirmed to Daily Sun that passengers from Nigeria that had booked tickets to travel to Dubai on December 13 and had boarded the plane were offloaded. “The excuse from Dubai was that they had gotten 37 positive covid cases, so they had to take measures to restrict movement. But not long after the directive to bar passengers was issued, they reversed themselves and are now accepting passengers from Nigeria,” the source said.

There are reasons to believe that the diplomatic row between the government of Nigeria and the UAE over allocation of frequencies for Emirates airline and Nigeria’s Air Peace was responsible for the initial decision to bar passengers from Nigeria. For over eight months, the government of Nigeria and UAE have been engulfed in a tit-for-tat over Covid-19 regulations and most recently, the allocation of frequencies and slots to Emirates and Air Peace.

After Nigeria lifted COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, the UAE imposed very strict travel guidelines which were in contrast with the FG’s guidelines. The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika then imposed restrictions on Emirates from flying into Nigeria. After eight months, the restrictions were lifted and Air Peace resumed flying to Sharjah, while Emirates resumed flying in and out of Nigeria.

But last week, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) withdrew the approval granted to Emirates by the Ministry of Aviation following the refusal of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE to grant equal rights to Air Peace fly to Dubai via Sharjah. The withdrawal of approval took effect on December 12, 2021.

The UAE’s Minister of Economy, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, who is also the head of the country’s GCAA, wrote a letter to Sirika, protesting the withdrawal of Emirate’s frequencies while insisting that Air Peace has been treated fairly.

But Sirika, in leaked audio, described the letter as ‘insulting’ and said that at the inception of this administration, the FG granted Emirates Airlines the approval for 21 flights weekly, 14 to Lagos and seven to Abuja but the UAE refused to grant Nigeria’s Air Peace three weekly frequencies to Sharjah, which the airline requested for, rather, it approved only one frequency weekly. He said the GCAA had attributed its refusal to grant three frequencies to Air Peace to inadequate slots in Sharjah airport. He said even though both countries are losing revenue as a result of the row, the Nigerian Government would continue to protect Nigerian businesses.

A few days ago, however, Emirates discontinued its operations in Nigeria indefinitely and currently, other foreign airlines have stopped accepting Nigerian passengers travelling to the UAE.

Reacting to the row, the President of the Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association of Nigeria, Alex Nwuba, said the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and the UAE has to be renegotiated to protect domestic airlines. Speaking on Arise TV on Monday, he said most often, BASA, which is an agreement that provides for civil aviation certifications to be shared between two countries, gives more advantage to other countries instead of giving equal advantage to the signatories.

“If you look at what economies operate, which is a balance of trade, we are at a disadvantage because Emirates can come 21 times, while Air Peace can only go there once. Twenty-one times a week times 365 days, means that Emirates carries about 450,000 passengers and at a typical fare, we are talking about half a billion-dollar trade to the UAE. But the UAE says Nigeria will only be granted one frequency. First of all, we have a flawed bilateral agreement which has led to the opportunity for a disadvantaged economy and so, we have to go back to the bargaining table and sort out the frequency and slots. Nigeria doesn’t operate a slot system like the UAE and the UK and this is where the imbalance occurs,” Nwubua said.

Ghana to fine airlines $3,500 for each unvaccinated passenger - ALJAZEERA

DECEMBER 14, 2021

Air carriers will also be penalised for travellers who did not fill out health declaration form before boarding flight to Kotoka International Airport.

Ghana has said it will fine airlines $3,500 for each passenger who arrives in the capital’s international airport without being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Under new measures taking effect on Wednesday, air carriers will also be penalised the same amount for travellers who did not fill out a health declaration form before boarding their flight to Kotoka International Airport in Accra, the state-owned Ghana Airport Company said.

While Ghanaians who fly in without meeting the requirement will be allowed to enter the country and undergo a 14-day quarantine, foreigners may be refused entry, the airport authority said.

The measures are just the latest taken by Ghana, which has introduced some of the strictest coronavirus-related restrictions in West Africa.

The new penalties come a day after the country began requiring all passengers over the age of 18 to provide evidence of full vaccination against COVID-19, saying that about 60 percent of the total new cases recorded in the country had come from the airport during a recent two-week period.

“The current increase in cases together with the detection of the Omicron variant among international arrivals and the expected increase during the festive season calls for urgent actions to prevent a major surge in COVID-19 cases in Ghana,” the Ghana Health Service said last week in announcing its decision.

Ghana, with about 31 million people, has one of the best COVID-19 testing programmes in the region. It has had 132,000 confirmed cases and 1,243 deaths since the pandemic began.

According to data compiled by the Reuters news agency, slightly more than five percent of the country’s population has so far been vaccinated.

Authorities this month launched an enormous vaccination drive ahead of the enforcement from January 22 of a vaccine mandate for targeted groups, including government employees, health workers and students. The government plans to recruit more health workers to be able to double daily inoculation from 140,000.

Abuja fuel queues worsen, supply crisis lingers - PUNCH

DECEMBER 14, 2021

by  Okechukwu Nnodim

Oil marketers on Monday attributed the widespread queues for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, in Abuja and environs to the lingering crisis in the supply of the commodity.

It was also learnt that many tank farms were not dispensing products on Monday due to hitches in the supply of petrol.

This led to severe queues in most filling stations in Abuja that dispensed PMS, as many others were locked up.

The two filling stations, Conoil and Total, located in front of the Abuja headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, had long queues of motorists.

The few filling stations that dispensed petrol on airport road, for instance, Major Oil, had long queues, as motorists spent hours in front of the outlets trying to get PMS.

Providing explanation on what led to the massive queues on Monday, the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, told our correspondent that the problem in the downstream sector had not been solved.

He stated that many depots were not dispensing products to retail outlets because they (depots) lacked products.

“The supply crisis in the downstream is still lingering. We raised this concern some weeks ago and they came out to say they have enough products, but right now we are seeing queues again due to the challenges,” Chinedu said.

He added, “Many tank farms or depots are not dispensing products. Only few marketers have products to sell to final consumers. The issue of price is still a concern, because some depots are still selling above the regulated rate.”

This came as IPMAN announced the emergence Debo Ahmed as its new President with effect from December 14, 2021, and assured motorists that it would continue to work hard to manage the concerns in the downstream oil sector.

In November, the concerns in the downstream made private depots to sell PMS at N159/litre instead of the approved rate N148/litre.

Depot owners had explained at the time that the rising depot cost was because the NNPC had yet to revert to naira denominated invoices for excess capacity for coastal movement using Import and Export Window rate as agreed by stakeholders.

The queues in Abuja prompted the reappearance of black marketers on major highways on Monday, as they sold petrol in jerrycans to motorists and other PMS users.

UK removes all 11 countries from red list - BBC

DECEMBER 14, 2021

The government has said that all 11 countries will be removed from the UK's travel red list from 4am on Wednesday.

Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are on the list.

The red list was reintroduced in late November as a precaution after the emergence of the Omicron variant.

But Health Secretary Sajid Javid said it had spread so widely the rules no longer had much purpose.

"Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad," he told parliament.

"Whilst we will maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel we will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4am tomorrow morning."

Currently, all UK arrivals from red list countries must pay for and self-isolate in a pre-booked, government-approved hotel for 10 days.

They must also take Covid tests within 48 hours of setting off for the UK and PCR tests within two days of their arrival.

Some arrivals have already paid thousands of pounds to stay in government-approved quarantine hotels, and there have been complaints of chaotic organisation and inedible food during their stays.

Mr Javid said he had asked for urgent advice on whether those currently in managed quarantine would be able to leave early.

He also said he was "very persuaded" by calls to reimburse people and hoped to make an announcement soon.

'Complete sense'

The move follows anger from African countries, with the UN describing the ban on non-UK residents entering England as "travel apartheid".

The travel industry had also warned the restrictions were hurting business.

Tim Alderslade, head of trade group Airlines UK, said emptying the red list made "complete sense", but that the government should also scrap pre-departure and day two tests for all arrivals.

"If the red list isn't necessary, given that Omicron is established here at home, then neither are the costly emergency testing and isolation measures imposed on even fully vaccinated travellers, which again put us completely at odds with the rest of Europe."

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said these testing measures would be reviewed in the first week of January.

"As always, we keep all our travel measures under review and we may impose new restrictions should there be a need to do so to protect public health," he said on Twitter.

Presentational grey line

Quarantine fiasco has cost us £5,500

Alison Stitt says her experience in a quarantine hotel has pushed her to the point of meltdown.

She was in South Africa visiting her father for his 90th birthday when the country went on the UK's red list.

It took days to rearrange a flight home on the same date that a quarantine hotel room was available. They had to stay longer in their AirBnB and re-book their car hire while they waited - on top of extending their car parking and kennels bookings in the UK.

Now she and her husband David are at a hotel near Gatwick.

Alison says the total cost of their extended stay in South Africa and paying for their quarantine facility has been at least £5,500.

"It was one expense after another. It's all going on credit cards. It was meant to be a budget trip."

She describes the experience of going into quarantine as a farce. "We were herded into coaches after we landed. We got lucky coming to Gatwick, some were going to Manchester."

Alison says her room is clean and modern, but she doesn't feel safe in the hotel, saying she's seen guards sneezing with their masks down.

The hotel had to be evacuated last week because of a fire alarm.

"We know someone has tested positive in the hotel. They came to re-test us, saying that we had been exposed to someone with Covid during the fire alarm."

France might tighten entries from Britain due to COVID Omicron surge - REUTERS

DECEMBER 14, 2021


  • France keeping close eye on surge in COVID cases in UK
  • UK hit by flare-up in COVID Omicron variant numbers
  • Around 130 confirmed cases of Omicron in France

PARIS, Dec 14 (Reuters) - France is contemplating tightening controls for travellers coming from Britain, where the new, more contagious, Omicron coronavirus variant seems to be rapidly spreading, said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.

"Regarding Britain, the current rule is to show a negative test less than 48 hours old in order to enter France," Attal told France Info radio on Tuesday.

"But we are always looking at means to tighten the framework, we are currently working on that and we should, I think, come to a conclusion in the coming days", he added.

At least one person has died in the United Kingdom after contracting the Omicron variant, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, marking the first publicly confirmed death globally from the fast-spreading new strain. read more

Attal said France, currently engulfed in a fifth wave of COVID fuelled mainly by the Delta variant, presently had 133 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong in late November.

Despite the threat of this variant, he said there were no plans at this stage to take new restrictive measures to contain the disease, adding that accelerating the COVID vaccine booster jab campaign was the key part of the French government strategy.

"Regarding rules in France, there are no plans to change them (...) the key is to pursue the vaccination campaign with the booster shot," Attal said, while adding that the government was nevertheless constantly monitoring the situation.

The seven-day moving average of daily new cases, which evens out reporting irregularities, stood on Monday at a more than one year high of 48,879. At 14,527, the current number of people hospitalised for COVID-19 has reached a peak since June 5.

France reported on Dec 13 that a further 231 people had died from COVID in hospitals in the last 24 hours, while the number of COVID patients in intensive care units (ICUs) had risen by 150 to stand at 2,752.

Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

Foreigners buy Turkish homes at record pace as lira slides - REUTERS

DECEMBER 15, 2021

  • Summary
  • Near 50% slump in lira this year lures foreign investors
  • Foreign inflows of some $8.5 billion due to house purchases
  • Local investors turn to housing as defence against inflation

ISTANBUL, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Turkish house sales to foreigners jumped nearly 50% to a record level in November, data showed on Tuesday, bringing in billions of dollars in foreign exchange as a lira slump made purchases significantly cheaper for those buying with hard currency.

Against a background of more than 20% annual inflation, the property market was generally buoyant in November, with overall sales surging 59% year-on-year to 178,814 properties, the Turkish Statistical Institute figures showed.

"People seeing housing as a means of defence against inflation was instrumental in the sharp sales rise in November," said TSKB Real Estate Appraisal general manager Makbule Yonel Maya, adding that lower state banks loan rates had an impact.

The lira slumped to a record low of 14.99 against the dollar on Monday, representing a halving in value this year. At its current level of 14.2 it is more than 40% weaker than at the start of September.

Altan Elmas, chairman of the Konutder housing developers and investors association, said foreign currency inflows due to house sales in the 11 months to November amounted to some $8.5 billion, exceeding its forecast.

"We can reach $10 billion by the end of the year. The biggest support for the new economic programme in the period ahead will come from property sales to foreigners," he said.

President Tayyip Erdogan has backed aggressive interest rate cuts to support his new programme that stresses exports and credit - despite soaring inflation and widespread criticism of the policy from economists and opposition lawmakers.

The 7,363 homes sold to foreigners in November represented the highest monthly level since the data series began in 2013. By far the highest number of foreign buyers were Iranian citizens, followed by Iraqis and Russians.

Property sales to foreigners have been strong throughout the year, rising 39.4% in the first 11 months, while total house sales actually fell 9.2% in the 11-month period, compared to a year earlier.

The most popular place for house sales to foreigners was Istanbul, with 2,922 sales, followed by the southern resort of Antalya and the capital Ankara.

The data also showed November mortgage sales climbed 61% from a year earlier to 39,366, accounting for 22% of the total in the period.

Last year, sales surged due to pandemic-era cheap loans from state banks, prompting real estate developers to launch campaigns for buyers.

Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Ed Osmond

FG confirms UAE’s slots for Air Peace, airline awaits letter - PUNCH

DECEMBER 15, 2021

BY  Okechukwu Nnodim

The Federal Ministry of Aviation on Tuesday confirmed that the United Arab Emirates had increased the flight slots allotted to Air Peace, Nigeria’s largest commercial airline, to operate into UAE.

But Air Peace insisted on Tuesday that it was still awaiting the official receipt of the reported letter from the United Arab Emirates on the concession of seven flight slots to the carrier by the UAE government.

The carrier said although media reports had earlier stated that the UAE wrote to the airline on the development, there was no official notice to that effect as of Tuesday.

But the Director, Public Affairs, FMA, James Odaudu, told our correspondent that it was true that the UAE had allotted increased flight slots to Air Peace.

“I can confirm that the story is true and that the UAE has increased the flight slots of Air Peace in the United Arab Emirates,” he stated.

However, the airline maintained that it had yet to receive any official letter to that effect despite the letter being circulated online which was reportedly written to the carrier by UAE authorities.

“If they (UAE) have conceded such number of slots to us they would normally write to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since is a matter between Nigeria and UAE,” a spokesperson for Air Peace, Stanley Oliseh, told our correspondent.

He added, “So I can’t confirm that at the moment. But if need be I’ll definitely confirm it. I’m not aware such a letter got to us, although I’ve seen it flying around electronically.

“I don’t know if it leaked or if it was deliberate but I just can’t speak on that at the moment in terms of confirmation. However, once we have an update on our Dubai operations we will let the public know via our regular communication channels.”

The seeming diplomatic row between Nigeria and UAE had persisted since the outbreak of COVID-19, and it increased after the Omicron variant emerged.

On Friday, for instance, the Federal Government provided explanations on why it had to cut down the daily flights of UAE’s Emirates Airlines to just one per week to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Providing explanation for its action, the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, stated that following the lifting of the ban on Emirates Airlines passenger flights to Nigeria by the government, the UAE-based airline applied to Federal Ministry of Aviation for approval of its winter flight schedule.

He said the requested schedule consisted of 21 weekly passenger flight frequencies to Nigeria, comprising two daily flights to Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos and one daily flight to the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.

Nuhu said in a statement that the Minister of Aviation graciously approved the winter schedule as requested without any hindrance or arrival slots requirements in the spirit and intent of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Nigeria and UAE.

He further stated that Air Peace Airlines, the only Nigerian airline that operated passenger flights to Sharjah International Airport in UAE, requested for three weekly passenger flight frequencies and was granted only one weekly passenger flight frequency.

The NCAA boss stated that the Director-General of General Civil Aviation Authority in the UAE attributed this action to non-availability of arrival slots at Sharjah International Airport.

Nuhu said, “Bilateral Air Services Agreement between countries are based on the principle of reciprocity for transparency and fairness to both sides.

“While Nigerian authorities approved the request of Emirates Airlines, UAE authorities acted in total disregard of the terms and provisions of the BASA between the two countries by approving one out of the three weekly passenger flight frequencies requested by Air Peace Airlines.”

Nuhu said he held a held a series of meetings with his GCAA UAE counterpart at the sidelines of the ICAO Air Negotiation Conference in Bogota, Colombia which all ended in stalemates.

“The Minister of Aviation (Nigeria) decided to apply the principle of reciprocity and withdraw the approval of the winter schedule given to Emirates Airlines and instead approved one weekly flight frequency to Abuja on Thursday,” Nuhu stated in the statement.

He said he notified the Country Manager of Emirates Airlines and DG GCAA of the new approved weekly passenger flight schedule.

“We want to assure the public that national interests in all aviation matters will be jealously guided and protected while regretting any inconvenience this action might caused,” the NCAA boss stated.

Also Emirates in a statement issued on Friday had announced the suspension of its flights to Nigeria.

Delta eyes $1.2bn stakes in Virgin Atlantic, others - REUTERS

DECEMBER 15, 2021

BY  Edidiong Ikpoto

As part of its post-pandemic economic resurgence strategy, United States carrier-Delta Air Lines- has begun plans to make fresh investments in Virgin Atlantic, Aeromexico and LATAM in a move that is expected to strengthen the partnering airlines.

The investments are expected to bolster Delta’s global platform that provides customers an enhanced network, seamless connectivity and an elevated experience, as well as fuel business growth, according to a statement by the company.

Prior to the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, Delta had recorded international growth attributed to a combination of organic growth and its global partner network.

With the attendant increase in international travel demand, the connectivity, relevance and breadth of Delta’s global network with its partners is considered strategic towards efficient delivery of aviation services.

“These strategic investments in our partners will transform our ability to improve travel for our customers, enabling us to deliver a seamless travel experience alongside offering our customers an unrivalled network between North American and premier markets worldwide,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian.

“The work each of our partners has done to strengthen their businesses for the future makes these partnerships even more valuable and creates a new era of international travel to benefit our customers, our employees and our investors as global travel rebounds in 2022 and beyond,” he added.

It is expected that upon completion of their respective processes, Delta will hold a 20 per cent equity stake in Aeromexico and a 10 per cent equity stake in LATAM.

In addition, Delta will maintain its 49 per cent equity stake in Virgin Atlantic. The airline’s investment in these carriers will be approximately $1.2bn.

With a new widebody aircraft on the way, record hiring, and significant investments in international readiness, Delta is stitching together a machinery to lead the industry through the ongoing recovery.

“Throughout the pandemic, Delta has continued to invest in our future, including new aircraft orders, accelerating real estate projects and putting significant resources into health and safety measures to protect our employees and our customers,” said the Delta Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Dan Janki.

“Similarly, investing in our partners now – even as we continue to navigate the pandemic – is the right choice to support Delta’s long-term strategy,” he added.


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