Emirates Airlines has resolved to immediately resume flight operations in Nigeria, even as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities lifted the visa ban slammed on Nigerians October last year.
Earlier Monday, the Gulf State had lifted the visa ban on Nigerian travellers following a meeting between President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his UAE counterpart, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi.
Tinubu had during a meeting with the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria August 24, promised to intervene in the dispute between the two countries.
The diplomatic row started in 2021 after UAE authorities restrained other airlines from bringing Nigerian passengers to the Middle Eastern nation.
The UAE also banned nearly 20 other nationals, mostly Africans, from entering its territory, hinging its decision on the criminal tendencies of the nationals of the affected country.
Consequently, the federal government imposed restrictions on Emirates Airlines and slashed its frequencies from 21 per week to just one.
In October 29, 2022, the airline suspended flight operations to Nigeria over its inability to repatriate its funds trapped in the country.
How the deal was struck
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Ajuri Ngelale, confirmed the planned resumption of Emirates flight operations in a statement issued in Abu Dhabi.
The development, according to him, was the outcome of the meeting between the Nigerian and UAE leaders.
In the statement, Ngelale said: “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and President of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, on Monday in Abu Dhabi, have finalized a historic agreement, which has resulted in the immediate cessation of the visa ban placed on Nigerian travelers.
“Furthermore, by this historic agreement, both Etihad Airlines and Emirates Airlines are to immediately resume flight schedules into and out of Nigeria, without any further delay.
“As negotiated between the two Heads of State, this immediate restoration of flight activity, through these two airlines and between the two countries, does not involve any immediate payment by the Nigerian government.
“In recognition of President Tinubu’s economic development diplomacy drive and proposals today presented by President Tinubu to his counterpart, an agreed framework has been established, which will involve several billions of U.S. dollars worth of new investments into the Nigerian economy across multiple sectors, including defense, agriculture and others, by the investment arms of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.”
“Additionally, President Tinubu is pleased to have successfully negotiated a joint, new foreign exchange liquidity programme between the two Governments, which will be announced in detail in the coming weeks.
“In conclusion, the President wishes to commend the UAE President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for his unalloyed friendship and his determined effort to join hands with him to fully normalize and reset to excellence, the standard of relations between the two important countries”, Ngelale also said.