In a letter written to the Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu dated September 11 and signed by Deputy Director, Air Services, Directorate of Air Services, French Civil Aviation Authority, Emmanuel Vivet, read;
Nigerian airlines are entitled to operate international flights to France in full compliance with the bilateral framework governing the air services between ‘our two countries’.
“For that reason, and on the basis of reciprocity, I kindly request you to grant Air France the relevant authorisation to operate air services to Nigeria”.
Vivet noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had severely impacted the airlines and international air traffic had tremendously decreased.
“Fortunately, even if the traffic remains steadily lower than usual, the standard flights programs of our airlines are progressively resuming. In this context, I am pleased to inform you that Air France has the clear intention to resume its flights to Nigeria”.
The French Civil Aviation Authority explained that it never imposed restrictive measures on international to or from France but only on the passengers being allowed to disembark in France.
It stated that such passenger restrictions apply to the vast majority of countries and apply to both foreign and French airlines without any discrimination.
“However, Air France informed me that it has not yet received the approval from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to operate such flights, which it intends to operate as soon as possible.”
It would be recalled that Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had last month shortly before the resumption of international flight services warned that Nigeria would enforce the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to airlines to resume operations in the country.
According to him, the country’s position is informed by the ban placed by some countries on flights from Nigeria, and that Nigeria’s decision was taken in the interest of its citizens.
The minister carried out the threat. He matched his words with action. Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways and later, Emirates Airlines were some of the prominent airlines axed from operating into the country.
While, Air France and KLM operate to Nigeria from their Paris and Amsterdam hubs, no Nigerian airline is reciprocating flight services to these cities and virtually all major cities in Europe.
Air Peace is the sole Nigerian airline on the periphery of international stage with B777.
It lacks the resources, strategy and good international route network to even consider it a threat to mega carriers like British Airways, Air France Delta, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Middle East Airlines, Lufthansa among others.