The recent approval granted by the Federal Government to Emirates Airline to operate two more frequencies into Nigeria has continued to generate criticisms across the sector.
Joining in the condemnation of the extra frequencies was a member of the Aviation Round Table Initiative (ARTI), a non governmental organisation and a director at the Zenith Travels, Mr Olumide Ohunayo.
The management of Emirates has since denied such approval, describing the insinuation as ‘patently false’, but clarified that the extra frequency only allows it to operate extra flights to Abuja and Lagos for a very limited period, for the sole purpose of serving Nigerian pilgrims traveling to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hajj.
Not satisfied with the explanation of the UAE based carrier, Ohunayo called for the sack of relevant officials at the ministry of aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for the breach which he said was targeted at frustrating Air Peace out of the Sharjah route to protect Emirates and two other UAE carriers operating between Nigeria and the UAE route.
According to Ohunayo, “the industry was alarmed when the news broke that Emirates Airline has been granted an extra frequency to Lagos despite having two daily frequencies to Lagos and another daily flight to Abuja while Etihad Airline from the same country also has a daily flight. To our amazement Emirates said it was a hajj flight and it would operate for one month. Did Emirates bid for hajj? Why didn’t they park the aircraft at the hajj camp to ferry the passengers? Why were other passengers going to other international destinations taken inbound and outbound on a hajj flight?
“Heads in the ministry and NCAA should roll, and Emirates sanctioned for this breach, as this was a deliberate act targeted at frustrating Air Peace out of the Sharjah route. Unfortunately, government officials became pawns to kill our own. We need a selfless minister in our industry and the president should look at a commercially oriented person or we will keep going round in circles. Nigeria Airways, and not Emirates, developed the Dubai route. Emirates only latched on to the fruits when Nigeria Airways fell. Emirates loves multiple entries and frequencies yet can’t invest in a Nigerian airline or build one themselves. When will we ever learn?”