Air Peace Airlines has described the claim by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that it operates from another airport other than Sharjah International Airport as deliberate damage on its brand.
This was disclosed by the airline via a letter it issued to the Ministry of Aviation on Saturday. The letter, which was seen by Nairametrics was addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika.
According to the airline, it takes very serious exception to that letter, as it believes that the Minister and the Chairman of the Board of UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) may have been misinformed of the true position of the issues in discourse as no one in such an exalted position and office would deliberately push out such untrue statement.
Air Peace said that contrary to what the GCAA claims in its letter, it never ceased operating from Sharjah International Airport since it started in July 2019. It said it only stopped 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.
“We did several evacuation flights out of Sharjah. So, we never left Sharjah Airport nor did we at any time “shifted” and operated out of DXB (Dubai Airport). The letter deliberately painted us as unserious while at the same time, suggesting that we look for other airports in the country to operate from.
“After the restriction of scheduled flight operations between UAE and Nigeria was lifted towards the last week in November 2021, we approached the Sharjah Airport and GCAA with a request to allow us to operate a charter into the UAE on December 01, 2021.
“To our surprise and, despite the lifting of the ban on flight operations between both countries, they refused. They said they would not allow charter but scheduled flight operations.
“However, we then, in obedience to their demand, announced resumption of scheduled operations beginning from that date and we opened our sales to the public.”
Air Peace said that three days to departure, the GCAA was yet to approve flights and came back 48hours to deny them of slots to operate flights. They were later told that Air Peace would only be accepted if only it brought a small aircraft.
“On our request to continue with the scheduled operations after this present flight, we were turned down using lack of slot as excuse. Meanwhile, Emirates had started operating three flights daily into Nigeria while Air Peace was totally turned down!”
Air Peace said the one slot was only given to them after the NCAA had made threats to withdraw Emirates Airlines ministerial approval.
“Then, at your threat of going to stop them if Air Peace was not allowed a meagre three flights weekly, THEY QUICKLY DID THE UNTHINKABLE. THEY GAVE US ONE FLIGHT ONLY PER WEEK! They also added that it must be operated only on Thursdays at a time that they chose themselves,” the airline said.
While reiterating that at no time did it stop operating in Sharjah and moved to Dubai airport, Air Peace has demanded a retraction an unreserved apology from the GCAA.
“To this end therefore and, for the fact that this falsehood contained in the said letter has painted us in bad light and gone viral, even though the UAE Minister of Economy may have been misinformed by his aides, we, still, and humbly demand a retraction of the offending accusation of “stopping, shifting and returning” and an unreserved apology tendered to Air Peace,” it added.
Earlier on Saturday, the government of UAE had reacted to Nigeria’s withdrawal of ministerial approval granted to Emirates Airlines with respect to its Winter flight schedule from Nigeria, according to Nairametrics.
The GCAA in its statement stated that the decision by Nigeria’s NCAA is totally unjustified, especially as it has been disclosed that the action is being taken against the background of Air Peace not securing all 3 slots at Sharjah Airport which they desired.
The GCAA said that Air Peace initially operated at Sharjah Airport, shifted to Dubai Airport and then returned to Sharjah airport and that it would be unreasonable for the airline to expect any airport to maintain its slots when it ceases to operate at the airport.