A terse statement from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this morning indicated that all air transport services from Kenya to Dubai were suspended by the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA).
This sounded like a replay of the altercation between the UAE and Nigeria last week over the UAE’s move to restrict flights from Nigeria. Ironically the UAE expected to operate unhindered but Nigeria chose to level the playing ground by giving the UAE the same treatment.
The move saw the UAE rescind the earlier decision even though a diplomatic standoff continues.
Kenya has not yet responded to the statement which in full read:
“As per [the] directive from Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), all air transport services with inbound and transit passenger movements to the emirate of Dubai from any point in the Republic of Kenya are temporarily suspended for 48 hours effective from 20 December 2021 at 10.30hrs Local Time Dubai.”
The most affected by this decision were told that they could not travel on Emirates flights while those from Dubai were unaffected.
“Customers will not be accepted for travel on Emirates flights at Nairobi during this time. Outbound passenger operations from Dubai to Nairobi remain unaffected.”
The statement added, “Affected customers do not need to call us immediately for rebooking. Customers can simply hold on to their Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with their travel agent or booking office to make new travel plans.”
The 48-hour ban could have been due to various reasons including what is said to be a surging number of Covid-19 cases.
But unlike in Nigeria where the action was swift, Kenya is yet to give an explanation why this suspension was mandated.
In Nigeria, the faceoff was because of flight slots for the country’s Air Peace Airlines which had been denied the slots in Dubai.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) had rejected Air Peace’s request for three slots and only allowed the airline to fly to Sharjah once a week. In reaction, the Nigerian government took back the 21 airline slots it had allowed the UAE and replaced them with just a single weekly flight.
A section of Nigerian media has reported that the UAE lied regarding the reason why they were denying Air Peace the slots.
The Premium Times of Nigeria report includes a letter disputing the UAE’s allegations.
While the issues have been resolved, it remains to be seen if the UAE will address the letter by the Nigerians and clear any doubts over what could have been.