By Mukwuzi Joseph
The management of Air Peace has countered aviation authorities in the United Arab Emirates, following the explanation they presented on why the Nigerian airline was denied flight slots in the Middle-East country.
Offering an explanation in the dispute which is fast becoming a diplomatic row, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Mari, minister of economy and chairman of the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) claimed that Air Peace which initially operated at Sharjah Airport shifted to Dubai Airport and then returned to Sharjah Airport
Al Mari stated that it would be unreasonable for an airline to expect any airport to maintain their slots when they ceased operating at that airport.”
Responding to the claim, Air Peace insisted that “facts don’t lie” and further demanded a retraction and apology from the UAE aviation authority.
Air Peace which maintained that it “never stopped its operation in Sharjah, moved to Dubai, before returning to Sharjah” as claimed by Al Mari, disclosed that it stopped its operation when every other airline was forced to stop normal scheduled flight operations as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns that permitted only evacuation flights.
Recalling how it carried several evacuation flights out of Sharjah, Air Peace said it approached the Sharjah Airport and GCAA with a request to allow them to operate a charter into the UAE on December 01, 2021, after the restriction of scheduled flight operations between UAE and Nigeria was lifted.
The Nigerian airline said their request was rejected and when they pressed on, they were told it will be accepted if they don’t bring a wide-body aircraft but a small one. Air Peace further pointed out that Emirates had started operating three flights daily into Nigeria when they were totally turned down.
The airline also revealed that UAE authorities never bulged in spite of pleas from Nigerian authorities, but only gave them one slot in the Middle-East country when the federal government threatened that Emirates airline’s operations in the country will be stopped if Air Peace was not allowed a “meager three flights weekly”