June 29, 2022
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Nigeria’s foremost carrier, Air Peace, has replied the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) letter to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, describing the GCAA’s claims as untrue.

The airline also said, contrary to the claim of the GCAA that Air Peace had been given a slot in Dubai, it had never flown to the popular Dubai International Airport.

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Air Peace stated this in a letter to the Minister in response to earlier letter by the UAE Minister of Economy who also doubles as the Chairman of the GCAA, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri.

Al Marri had in the letter to Sirika described the reduction of Emirates’ flights to one from 21 by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as unjust and sought the intervention of Sirika.

The UAE Minister said the issue that led to the withdrawal of Emirates’ schedule was an operational one between Air Peace and Sharjah Airport and had nothing to do with Emirates.

But in a counter letter to the Minister, Air Peace described the position of the UAE minister as “misinformed”.

The letter signed by the Chief Operating Officer of the airline, Oluwatoyin Olajide, stated categorically that Air Peace has never operated flights into Dubai (DXB) Airport as insinuated by the GCAA Minister of Economy.

The letter read in part, “…We take very serious exception to that letter. We believe that the Minister and the Chairman of the Board of the 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.

“He has our respect, but his letter has misinformed the public about the real facts against us. We do not see what wrong Air Peace has done in this whole saga. We are the ones being wronged and now we are being attacked from a quarter we least expected. Facts don’t lie. In aviation, there are things one cannot lie about.

“Operating into and out of an airport is one of them. When did such flight operations occur? Which slot did we operate? For an airline to conduct scheduled operations into and out of an airport, there are agreements signed with several parties, executed, and implemented.

“There is need for the authority to provide the Ground Handling Company that handled the scheduled operations in Dubai Airport (DXB) for Air Peace. Air Peace has only operated flights into Sharjah Airport alone.”

Air Peace stated how it was advised by the Sharjah Airport to use a smaller aircraft which would not accommodate the volume of its passengers.

The airline added, “Sir, Air Peace has never been given slots at the Dubai International Airport. Slot availability was used to deny us operating from that popular airport as it was our first choice. It was the politics of slot unavailability that did not allow us to operate into Dubai Airport directly. The lack of flight slot angle forced us to approach the Sharjah Airport as a last resort.

“We were welcomed by the government and people of Sharjah. While we were denied slots in their most important airport, the Dubai Airport, Emirates has always enjoyed red carpet treatment in Nigeria where they were given our most important airports- Lagos and Abuja – where they operate a total of 21 flights weekly!

“We only asked for three flights weekly at the Sharjah Airport and we got same and started operations on the 5th of July, 2019 until Covid-19 lock-downs in 2020.

“Contrary to the letter, Air Peace never ceased operating from Sharjah International Airport since we started in July 2019. We 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.

“Three days to departure, they were yet to approve the flight. They came back 48 hours to our expected departure to UAE denying us slot to operate the flight. When we pressed on, they told us that they would accept us only if we did not bring a wide body aircraft but a small one. We had 250 passengers to transport and using a small aircraft as they suggested was impossible.

“It took your intervention and that of the Presidency before they approved that we come in on the said December 1st but not without another unfair order. We were told that we must land at 9.00 a.m their time, not before 9.00 am and not after 9.00am. Unbelievable!   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.

“You would recall  Sir, that you mounted serious pressures on them urging them to see reasons, but they never bulged. 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 Thursdays at a time  that they chose  themselves. No one would patronise  an airline doing only one  flight a week to a destination where one has the option of another airline doing 21 flights a week to the same destination. This  is  not  about  Air  Peace  alone  but  about  our  dear  country  Nigeria  that  has  been  massively disrespected by these  intrigues.

“We reiterate that there was never a  time did we  ever operate at Sharjah and stopped, shifted to Dubai Airport, then returned to Sharjah again as the letter stated.

“Honourable  Minister  Sir, we deserve  and  demand  a  retraction  and  an  unreserved  apology from the author of  that letter. We do not  want to  join  issues  in  the  public  space  with  them  as  it  is  unhelpful  to  both  countries. 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.”

The post Air Peace demands apology from UAE Minister over ‘false claims’ appeared first on Daily Trust.

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