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Nigeria-UAE ends row, FG reinstates Emirates’ 21-weekly flights

By Wole Oyebade
22 December 2021   |   4:12 am
Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), yesterday, ended the diplomatic row as they agreed to reinstate flight services across both ends.

Emirates SkyCargo

•Airline flies 21 million vaccines to Nigeria
Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), yesterday, ended the diplomatic row as they agreed to reinstate flight services across both ends.

While the UAE granted Nigerian flag carrier, Air Peace, seven weekly slots to Dubai, the Federal Government reciprocated, reinstating the 21-weekly winter schedule earlier granted to Emirates.

The Federal Government a fortnight ago, reduced Emirates Airlines’ 21 slots a-week to just one, in reciprocity of similar treatment meted to Nigerian flag carrier, Air Peace airline that requested for three slots but got only one a-week. In response, Emirates Airlines pulled out of the Nigerian route indefinitely. As at last week, the UAE modified its stance on welcoming Air Peace airline into the Arab country, with an approval of seven weekly slots into the Dubai International Airport, Dubai.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), in a memo to the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in UAE and Emirates yesterday, confirmed the approval of 21 weekly flights into Lagos and Abuja airports.

Director-General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said the approval was granted following consultations with stakeholders and the correspondence received from Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, offering Air Peace airline daily slots at Dubai Airport.

Nuhu stated: “This approval is predicated on the compliance with the Dubai Travel Protocol as released by Dubai airport on Friday, November 26, 2021 as it affects passengers travelling from Nigeria to UAE. Please be guided accordingly.”

In a related development, Emirates SkyCargo has recorded a milestone in the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines with 600 million doses flown on its flights. Since October 2020, the carrier has transported more than 2.8 million kilograms (2800 tonnes) of COVID-19 vaccines from 35 origins to over 80 destinations, including Nigeria that has received 21 million doses to date.

Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo, Nabil Sultan, said Emirates SkyCargo remains committed to the rapid distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable communities worldwide.

“When we formulated our COVID-19 distribution strategy in 2020, Emirates SkyCargo prioritised the movement of COVID-19 vaccines through our Dubai hub to developing countries.

“I’m happy to announce that nearly two-thirds of the total vaccines we transported were headed to destinations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. With our extensive reach across six continents, our wide-body capacity and expertise in cool chain logistics, Emirates SkyCargo will continue to be a reliable partner for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in the months to come,” Sultan said.

With the increasing roll-out of vaccination and booster campaigns across global markets, Emirates SkyCargo witnessed a steady increase in the demand for transportation of COVID-19 vaccines in the second half of 2021.

In October and November 2021 alone, Emirates SkyCargo moved more than 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, almost one third of the total COVID-19 vaccines transported by the carrier since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.