Aviation Round Table (ART), a pressure group in Nigeria’s aviation sector has commended the Federal Government for reciprocating United Arab Emirates (UAE) flight frequency into that country by Nigeria’s flag carrier.

President of the group, Dr Gabriel Olowo, also commended the Nigerian government in a statement issued in Ikeja on Saturday for reciprocating UAE’s choice of entry points into Nigeria.

The Federal Government on Thursday withdrew its former approval for Emirates Airlines winter schedule, cutting down the carrier’s daily flights to only Abuja to just once a week.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu, conveyed Nigeria’s decision in a letter sent to the Country Manager, Emirates Airlines Nigeria.

The letter entitled “Withdrawal of Ministerial Approval of Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule’’ read in part, “I wish to inform you of the withdrawal of the approval granted to Emirates Airlines Winter Schedule.

This withdrawal becomes effective on Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021.

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

“Please be guided accordingly and abide by the new directive.

Reacting to government’s directive, Dr Olowo said in the group’s statement that the Federal Government was on the right course on the reciprocity order against Emirate Airlines routes and entry points.

Emirates Airline had before now operated 21 weekly flights into Lagos and Abuja airports whereas the UAE granted Nigeria’s flag carrier, Air Peace, only one weekly flight to its Sharjah Airport.

This is even in spite of the fact that Nigeria’s flag carrier applied for only three weekly flights into the UAE.’

“I am indeed very elated to read the current decision by government that our long-time agitation on schedule reciprocity to Nigeria is finally being addressed.

“This confirms the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika’s and Capt. Nuhu’s professionalism and love for Nigeria to address the negative balance of trade with countries participating in Nigeria’s Bilateral Air Services Agreement,’’ he stated.

Olowo added that the ART believed that the correction of these anomalies would not be treated in isolation, but applied to all foreign operations into Nigeria.

He noted that the Federal Government’s decision remained the necessary and sufficient condition to get markets for its carriers.

He stated that government’s decision would further address anti-competition practice prevalent in Nigeria and build strong Nigerian flag carriers and consequently build a strong economy.

Consequent upon Nigeria’s decision of Thursday, Emirates Airlines on Friday announced a suspension of its flights between Nigeria and Dubai from Monday.

It said in the announcement that its last flight to operate between Dubai and the cities of Lagos and Abuja, would be on Dec. 12.

“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.

“This will be until the UAE and Nigeria work on a solution to the on-going issue,’’ the airline stated.

“Emirates is committed to its operations in Nigeria, and we stand ready to reinstate services once restrictions are lifted by the Nigerian authorities.

“This is to ensure travellers have more choice and access to trade and tourism opportunities in Dubai, and beyond to our network of over 120 destinations.”

“Customers holding tickets with the final destinations Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted at the point of origin,’’ the airline stated.

It gave its customers the option to hold on to their bookings till flights resume.

Passenger services between the UAE and Nigeria had been subjected to restrictions since March, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.