Nigeria Bans Emirates From Flying To Lagos Over Slot Dispute

Nigeria Bans Emirates From Flying To Lagos Over Slot Dispute

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A good old fashioned slot dispute is causing Emirates to cut flights to Lagos…

Nigeria bans Emirates due to “reciprocity”

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is forcing Emirates to discontinue its daily service between Dubai (DXB) and Lagos (LOS) as of Sunday, December 12, 2021. With this new policy, Emirates will only be allowed to operate a single weekly flight to Abuja (ABV).

Why is the NCAA banning Emirates from flying to Lagos? Well, it’s claimed that the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) won’t grant Air Peace (a Nigerian airline) the right to offer equal service to the UAE. Specifically, Air Peace wants to operate three weekly flights between Lagos (LOS) and Sharjah (SHJ), yet authorities only granted Air Peace the right to operate once weekly flights.

Captain Musa Nuhu, the Director General of the NCAA, explained this as follows:

“The Nigerian Government was gracious to grant Emirates Airlines 21 frequencies it requested for. The airline wants to operate fourteen 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 GCAA refused the airline. It only approved one weekly frequency to the airline. The only excuse they gave was that they don’t have enough slots. Where is the justice in this? That is the capital flight out of Nigeria. Nigeria should protect its own.”

This is far from the first dispute between Emirates and Nigeria. For example, in 2019 a Nigerian court ruled that an Emirates 777 should be seized because someone was denied boarding over a ticketing issue back in 2007.

Emirates is banned from flying to Lagos

What’s the UAE’s side of the story?

There are two sides to every story, and this is no exception. The UAE GCAA issued the following statement in response to Nigeria’s decision:

The GCAA has the honor to highlight that such a decision by the NCAA is totally unjustifiable, especially as it has come to our attention that their action is being taken against the background of Air Peace not securing all three 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 the tremendous effort on their side, this airport was able to accommodate Air Peace with one of the three slots that this airline requested.

Air Peace isn’t getting the Sharjah slots it wants

Nigeria is being unreasonable here

If Nigeria’s version of the situation were true (or at least presented all the facts), then there would absolutely be merit to the government’s policy of banning Emirates. That would be worthy of reciprocal action. But with the other side of the story, it seems clear that Nigeria is in the wrong:

  • Air Peace isn’t at all being prevented from flying to the UAE, the airline just can’t get the slots it wants at the airport it wants; for example, the airline could operate more frequencies to Dubai World Central (DWC) if it wanted to
  • Air Peace decided to shift its flights from Sharjah to Dubai, abandoning Sharjah Airport; now the airline wants to return to Sharjah, but of course a carrier’s slots are given away when a carrier decides to leave an airport
  • With Sharjah Airport being so heavily utilized, there simply aren’t more available slots for any airline, as Air Peace isn’t being singled out; this is essentially the equivalent of London Heathrow (LHR) telling an airline that there are no more available slots, and an airline then arguing that the UK is banning flights to that country

It does appear that Nigeria is being totally unreasonable here. The big question is whether this strategy works, or how this stalemate will be resolved:

  • Will the Nigerian government backtrack eventually, realizing that there’s huge benefit to consumers to have more air access? No one benefits from Emirates not being able to fly to Nigeria…
  • Will the Nigerian government be able to bully Sharjah Airport, the GCAA, and Emirates, into somehow getting Air Peace more slots at Sharjah Airport?

I’m curious to see how this plays out, though I’m also reminded that I still need to fly Air Peace!

Air Arabia has a major hub in Sharjah

Bottom line

Nigeria has banned Emirates from operating flights to Lagos, as part of a slot dispute. Nigeria’s Air Peace is only being granted rights to operate once weekly flights to Sharjah, while the airline wants to operate three weekly flights. Therefore in an act of reciprocity, Nigerian authorities will only allow Emirates to operate a once weekly flight to Abuja.

However, the issue isn’t as the Nigerian government is presenting. Air Peace isn’t in any way being prevented from flying to the UAE, but rather the airline wants more slots at a slot controlled airport that’s already at capacity. That’s an unreasonable ask, and the airline should consider service to another aiport.

What do you make of this dispute between Nigeria and Air Peace?

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

Conversations (20)
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  1. FAL Guest

    Dubai DXB and UAE in general is a very open country when it comes to Aviation and I don’t think Emirates as an aviation giant will really care about Peace air competition btw Dubai - Lagos . Unfortunately the Nigerians who lives in Dubai will be effected by the decision mostly as now they have to fly with Ethiopian or Kenyan airways or Egypt air to reach home

  2. KJ Guest

    Interestingly, Air Peace state that
    to all intents & purpose,they are the victim of a a smear campaign,& that lies have been told in order to undermine their position.

    Rightly or wrongly,alot of Nigerians,feel that Nigerians are pushed around too often,& the banning of Emirates, is a necessary action,to show that they will no longer be any one's floor mat.

    Though one would ask why lop-sided Bilateral, Multi Lateral & Open Sky agreements...

    Interestingly, Air Peace state that
    to all intents & purpose,they are the victim of a a smear campaign,& that lies have been told in order to undermine their position.

    Rightly or wrongly,alot of Nigerians,feel that Nigerians are pushed around too often,& the banning of Emirates, is a necessary action,to show that they will no longer be any one's floor mat.

    Though one would ask why lop-sided Bilateral, Multi Lateral & Open Sky agreements where signed in the first place,by former Aviation Ministers. As Sean M stated,landing rights are not landing slots. Most foreign carriers fly from slot restricted airports,so unless the Nigerian carriers obtain the necessary slots,the landing rights are useless & reciprocity cannot take place.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      I noted that the Air Peace statement had to be signed by their only remaining executive who is not currently facing criminal charges and/or extradition. Definitely lends credibility to allegations of a smear campaign there.

  3. Wilhelm Guest

    Welcome to Nigeria.

  4. Macario Guest

    Bravo Naigeria,
    Am happy to see one African nation taking a reciprocal action. Hope Niageria stands its ground..
    Macario.
    Brisbane,

  5. Nnamdi Ibebunjo Guest

    Listen to the Nigerian minister's version of this debacle in entirety. The bilateral reciprocity agreement requires for increased slot for Air Peace and without any magic mago. It's about time that Nigeria and it's nation be respected as long as Nigeria equally respects other countries by playing a fair game. The Nigerian government and especially the minister must be applauded. Nigerian wealth and people must be respected HENCEFORTH. The world must watch out, because it's...

    Listen to the Nigerian minister's version of this debacle in entirety. The bilateral reciprocity agreement requires for increased slot for Air Peace and without any magic mago. It's about time that Nigeria and it's nation be respected as long as Nigeria equally respects other countries by playing a fair game. The Nigerian government and especially the minister must be applauded. Nigerian wealth and people must be respected HENCEFORTH. The world must watch out, because it's a NEW DAY. Nigeria is coming to it's senses and now realises it's basic obligations to it's citizens despite our past follies to put it lightly.
    Nnamdi

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Oga, understand first the difference between landing rights and landing slots and who is responsible for each before you come on the internet and embarrass yourself with your ignorance like the minister is doing.

      Nigerians should be holding Air Peace to account for not applying for their slots in time rather than dragging the entire nation into a diplomatic wahala.

  6. Edidi Essang Guest

    Your writeup sir is inherently one sided and misleading. I observed that you failed to contact Air Peace or the Nigerian civil aviation authorities for their side of the story. A simple Google search could have prevented this. So here you go.
    https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/500421-uae-official-lied-air-peace-says-as-row-over-flight-slots-deepens.html

  7. Ike Nigerian Guest

    Whoever wrote this article is being totally unreasonable and unfairly attacking Nigeria for nothing. You heard from UAE, but what effort did you make to hear from Air Peace? Do you know why Air Peace pulled out of Dubai? Could it be that they were given unreasonable landing conditions? If Dubai main airport is too busy to accommodate one Nigerian Airline, what makes you think Nigerian airports are so empty to accommodate 21 flights from...

    Whoever wrote this article is being totally unreasonable and unfairly attacking Nigeria for nothing. You heard from UAE, but what effort did you make to hear from Air Peace? Do you know why Air Peace pulled out of Dubai? Could it be that they were given unreasonable landing conditions? If Dubai main airport is too busy to accommodate one Nigerian Airline, what makes you think Nigerian airports are so empty to accommodate 21 flights from Emirates per week...First time I am reading your post..Will likely be the last....Thanks but no thanks

    1. Netson Guest

      There’s no one from Air Peace to reply, most of the Nigerian executives are being investigated for corruption and fraud. Not at all a surprise.

  8. Alpha Golf Guest

    Would love that Air Peace review!

  9. kq747 Member

    Didn't EK just restart pax flights to Nigeria in the last few days (much to the relief of Nigerians in my understanding)?

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Yes, and they will suspend flights effective tomorrow as well

    2. Ike Nigerian Guest

      Yes, they just restarted but no not to the relief of Nigerians...EK isnt doing Nigeria or Nigerians a favour...It is business....For an airline to have 21 landing rights in Nigeria but not able to grant 3 landing rights to Nigerian airline...Yeah right...This isnt 1950 guys...

  10. Sean M. Diamond

    NCAA statements and your analysis are inaccurate.

    The reality is that Air Peace is quite welcome to fly their entire entitlement of flights to the UAE but they failed to file for their preferred slot timings at Sharjah airport by the deadline and hence surrendered their historical rights. Sharjah airport is already at nearly 150% terminal capacity at that time of day so simply cannot accommodate an additional 777 worth of passengers.

    Air Peace is...

    NCAA statements and your analysis are inaccurate.

    The reality is that Air Peace is quite welcome to fly their entire entitlement of flights to the UAE but they failed to file for their preferred slot timings at Sharjah airport by the deadline and hence surrendered their historical rights. Sharjah airport is already at nearly 150% terminal capacity at that time of day so simply cannot accommodate an additional 777 worth of passengers.

    Air Peace is welcome to fly to another UAE airport that has available slots at their preferred timings (DWC specifically is available at those hours) but they would rather resort to bullying wrapped in nationalism, which someone like Hadi Sirika loves to pander to alas.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Sean M. -- Thanks, as always, for the perspective! Post updated to reflect that.

    2. Aquitania Guest

      DWC airport has been closed since early 2020 without immediate plans to re-open for commercial passenger service in the near future.

    3. Baqa Guest

      Came here for the Sean M comment, wasn't disappointed.

    4. Ike Nigerian Guest

      Well, Nigerian airports are at capacity so wont be able to accommodate 21 EK flights....Hello! what part of this dont you understand?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sean M. Diamond

NCAA statements and your analysis are inaccurate. The reality is that Air Peace is quite welcome to fly their entire entitlement of flights to the UAE but they failed to file for their preferred slot timings at Sharjah airport by the deadline and hence surrendered their historical rights. Sharjah airport is already at nearly 150% terminal capacity at that time of day so simply cannot accommodate an additional 777 worth of passengers. Air Peace is welcome to fly to another UAE airport that has available slots at their preferred timings (DWC specifically is available at those hours) but they would rather resort to bullying wrapped in nationalism, which someone like Hadi Sirika loves to pander to alas.

4
Sean M. Diamond

Oga, understand first the difference between landing rights and landing slots and who is responsible for each before you come on the internet and embarrass yourself with your ignorance like the minister is doing. Nigerians should be holding Air Peace to account for not applying for their slots in time rather than dragging the entire nation into a diplomatic wahala.

3
Macario Guest

Bravo Naigeria, Am happy to see one African nation taking a reciprocal action. Hope Niageria stands its ground.. Macario. Brisbane,

2
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