By Frank Ikpefan and Kelvin Osa Okunbor
The Federal Government has granted Emirates Airlines approval to operate international flights into Nigeria’s airspace.
The approval followed an undertaking by the authorities of the United Arabs Emirates (UAE).
Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said the commencement of the airline’s operations would depend on the take off of visa issuance by the UAE to Nigerians.
In a statement by the Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu, the minister said: “UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria.
“Commencement of the Visa issuance is condition precedent. Please bear with this unusual situation.”
The statement said the minister hailed the “understanding of everyone who has been negatively affected by the recent policy decisions which forbade some airlines from operating into the country when Nigeria reopened its air space to international flights”.
The Federal Government had banned the airline from operating International flights within Nigeria’s airspace because of the inability of Nigerians to obtain/use valid tourist visas to enter the UAE.
The minister had said the decision to place a similar ban on the airline was taken to protect the interests of the nation and its citizens who deserved to be treated with respect and dignity the same way Nigeria treats other nationals.
It will be recalled that Emirates Airlines was initially given approval to operate into the country, an approval which was withdrawn following the inability of Nigerians to obtain/use valid tourist visas to enter the UAE.
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