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Nigeria, UAE resume talks over suspended Dubai flights – Minister

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says delay due to Emirates discriminatory protocol 

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says the Federal Government of Nigeria has resumed talks with the United Arab Emirates on the resolution of the impasse leading to the suspension of flights between the two countries.

He said flights to Dubai were yet to resume because of discriminatory nature of the COVID-19 protocol introduced by Emirates.

He spoke on Monday in Abuja at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19.

Sirika said the protocol appeared to be targeted at only Nigerians as it was discriminatory and not backed up scientifically.

He said that Dubai was insisting that all passengers intending to visit its country must use Emirates Airline or spend two weeks in the alternative carrier’s country before gaining entrance to Dubai.

He, however, said talks were ongoing to resolve the matter.

The minister said, “Emirate in particular and other airlines including KLM gave us some conditions that were not acceptable to us because they don’t make scientific sense. After review, some of the airlines, especially KLM, saw sense with what Nigeria presented which is that you can do the test 48 to 72 hours before you leave and do another test on arrival.

“Emirates at that time wanted us to do the test 48 hours before boarding and 48 hours is not yet the incubation time yet and they expect us to do a rapid test at the airport and then fly seven hours later and do another test in Dubai and then follow us to our hotel or our accommodation and do another test.

“We accepted what Emirates presented and proceeded even though KLM and other airlines saw our reasons and rationale and towed the lines of Nigeria. In this case, Emirate insisted again that in addition to the test on arrival and other tests, that Nigerians cannot fly to the UAE except through Emirate airlines and that if we choose to do so through other airlines like Ethiopia, Qatar, Turkish or other airlines, we must remain in the country of that airline for two weeks if we are a Nigerian before we continue to Dubai.”

He also said, “If I buy my ticket in a free market which Nigeria and the UAE practices, if I buy a ticket on Ethiopian airline, that means I must remain in Addis Ababa for two weeks whether I have a visa or not before I proceed to Dubai.

“So, they insisted that we must fly by Emirates and majority of Nigerians are petty traders and the ticket of Emirates in this case maybe higher than other airlines. We thought we could take it diplomatically and we have been meeting and exchanging ideas because at some point, they said they are being hard on Nigerians because there are fake results and I said there are fake results in UAE, Germany, UK, USA, all over the world, there are fake results but Nigeria went ahead to put measures in place to detect fake results.

“So, we have gone the extra mile plus if you look at the rate of infection and the rate of people catching COVID-19 in Nigeria, we are far less than many other countries in the world which UAE did not apply that principle upon.

“The total number of deaths in Nigeria may be 3,000; but in one day, 3,000 Italians die or British and they are still allowed to go direct to the UAE. Even Ghanaians, Nigeriens, and other African countries can go to Dubai directly. So the protocol is country-specific and it is not acceptable by the agreement and convention that we signed with the UAE.”

The UAE had in February barred passengers from Nigeria from flying into Dubai due to the government’s refusal to allow the airline to conduct the rapid test for COVID-19. The ban was expected to last for three to four weeks but was extended in March.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority in retaliation banned Emirates from flying into Nigeria due to non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols as well as the introduction of a rapid antigen test as a requirement for Dubai travellers.

Aviation

NiMET predicts three-day heavy rains from today, flight disruption

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The Nigeria Meteorological Agency has alerted to flight disruption in coming days, predicting heavy rains in parts of the country, mostly in the North, from Tuesday to Thursday.

Newstrends reports that domestic flights going out of Lagos to other parts of the country on Friday were delayed for many hours as a result of persistent downpour.

NiMET, in its weather forecast numbered 202109023 released on Monday, said heavy rains would be experienced in parts of Bauchi, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Niger states.

It also said moderate rainfall would be witnessed in parts of Yobe, Kwara, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Lagos, Edo, Delta, Taraba, Adamawa, Ekiti, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Abia, Imo, Cross River and Akwa Ibom states from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

According to NiMET, light rains are expected over the rest of the country.

It however said due to the presence of good amount of soil-moisture and the expected heavy rainfall, there are increased chances of flashflood events on roads, settlements, farmlands and bridges.

This is in addition to chances of reduced horizontal visibility which can disrupt vehicular traffic and flight operations.

“Hence, the public is advised to exercise restraint, avoid low-lying areas and fast flowing runoff waters,” the forecast said.

NiMET also predicted the possibility of moderate rainfall events leading to slippery roads, reducing travel time, with increased likelihood of cars skidding off the road and chances of crashes.

It stated, “Strong winds are expected to accompany the moderate to heavy rains which can lead to falling of unsecured objects, weak buildings and exposed structures.

“Hence, the public is advised to be prepared for these events to avoid damages from rain-related hazard and watch out for updates. Elsewhere (See places in Green), no hydrometeorological hazards are anticipated.”

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Nigeria’s $500m Tucano jets, largest purchase in sub-Saharan Africa – US

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Nigeria’s purchase of 12 new A-29 Super Tucano jets at a sum of $500 million is the largest single arms procurement in sub-Saharan Africa, the United States Department of Defense has said.

Gen. Jeff Harrigian, the US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, disclosed this on Tuesday at the A-29 Super Tucano induction ceremony, hosted by Nigerian Minister of Defense Bashir Salihi Magashi and the Nigerian Air Force in Abuja.

“The Nigerian Air Force is one of our key partners that play a critical role in furthering regional security and stability,” Harrigian was quoted as saying in a statement by the US Embassy in Abuja.

“This ceremony symbolizes the strength of our unique partnership and underscores the value of training and working together,” he said.

The Super Tucanos were the impetus for the significant deepening of training and professional relationships, he added.

The statement said, “Precision targeting, air-to-ground integration, and human rights training are all included in the partnership between the U.S. and Nigeria.

“The aircraft will assist the Nigerian Air Force in their fight against violent extremist organizations including the Islamic State West Africa Province.

“The joint structure of air-to-ground integration also supports Nigerian Army and Navy operations.

“Nigeria purchased the A-29s through the Foreign Military Sales programme, which follows the Department of Defense’s “Total Package Approach” model and includes spare parts for several years of operation, contract logistics support, munitions, and a multi-year construction project to improve Kainji Air Base infrastructure.

“The total sale is valued at almost $500 million, making it the largest FMS program in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Harrigian said the A-29 is a prime tool to help Nigeria combat violent extremism and is vital to sustained deterrence.

“The total package deal—aircrew and maintainer training, precision-guided weapon delivery, and more—highlights our enduring partnership with the Nigerian Air Force and our commitment to enabling their successes where we can.”

A total of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force were trained to U.S. standards with the U.S. Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Base in Georgia, USA.

 

The training also emphasized the Law of Armed Conflict and civilian casualty mitigation, which are fundamental principles of the Nigerian military’s professional education and training.

 

As part of the programme, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing $36.1M in infrastructure support to the A-29s’ home base, Kainji Air Base, including covered magazines and aircraft sunshades, a new airfield hot cargo pad, perimeter and security fencing, airfield lights, and various airfield apron, parking, hangar, and entry control point enhancements.

 

The infrastructure package also includes a flight annex wing building for simulator training as well as munitions assembly and storage and small arms storage.

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Nigeria to partner Hungarian firm on aircraft assembly plant

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The Federal Government is set to partner Magnus aircraft manufacturing firm in Hungary to establish an assembling plant and manufacture of light airplanes in Nigeria.

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, stated this while on an inspection visit to the Magnus Aircraft Industry in Pogany, Hungary.

He said the partnership would be to assemble airplanes locally, from start to finish, and before the end of the Buhari administration.

“If we venture with them, we may start with assembling plants and later manufacturing,” Sirika said.

According to the minister, the Magnus aircraft has an airplane that is good for military training, has an aerobatic manoeuvre and is made of fully composite materials high strength and very lightweight.

He explained that aerobatics is the practice of flying manoeuvres involving aircraft attitudes that are not used in normal flights, adding that aerobatics are performed in airplanes and gliders for training, recreation, entertainment and sports.

Sirika further expressed satisfaction with the features and more than willing to facilitate the production of the airplanes in Nigeria, saying one of the significant features of the Magnus aircraft is the use of normal car petrol.

The minister who was at the facility on the invitation of the company said the proposed partnership with the aircraft manufacturer would be subjected to further analysis to verify the market and government willingness to partner with a significant amount of money and logistics.

He said the local production of aircraft in the country would facilitate the growth of Nigeria as a regional aviation superpower as it would also come with maintenance and repair facilities to attract patronage from neighbouring countries.

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