UAE Visa: We're working out details, time frame for commencement unknown — Keyamo - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Thursday, September 14, 2023

UAE Visa: We're working out details, time frame for commencement unknown — Keyamo

The Federal Government, FG, has announced that it is currently working out the details of the much-anticipated visa agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saying that while the agreement holds great promise for Nigerian travelers and businesses, the time frame for its commencement remains unknown.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo who disclosed this at the closing ceremony of the 7th African Aviation Summit in Abuja, emphasized that lifting of the ban, comes with hopes of enhancing bilateral relations and boosting economic activities between the two nations.

He noted that it is crucial for airlines operating between Nigeria and the UAE to have reciprocal rights as per the Bilateral Air Services Agreements, stressing the importance of balanced and fair treatment between the two countries.

Furthermore, Keyamo reassured that actions are being taken to ensure the repatriation of the funds of foreign airlines, addressing concerns about trapped funds.

He said: “We are working the details out. When two countries agree at the very top level then of course all the government operatives will begin to work out the tiny details. So, we are beginning to work out all the tiny details. I met with Emirate before I left UAE, I met with Etihad before I left UAE and we are working out the details. 

“The time frame, we cannot say the time frame. Kicking off an airline operation again on a route, it is not that you will go and grab one empty plane sitting in a place. There is no idle plane sitting anywhere, they have to reschedule their flights, restart their routes again, and all kinds of things. 

"All kinds of permission will be taken from local authorities and of course, I made the point in speaking with them and I made it clear that they will have to give our airlines reciprocal rights under our BASA. That is the point I insisted on, and they did say that any spot we need, they will give us as much as we give them those spots within Nigeria.”

Trapped funds

Speaking on the issue of trapped funds he said: “Mr President is very concerned about that, in fact, it is one of the issues we went to discuss in the UAE. I spoke with the minister of finance and the coordinating minister of the economy and he has given an indication that within the next few weeks, the Central Bank of Nigeria will be very clear as to the programme within which these issues will be addressed. 

“They will be paid off, these are not loans, they are trapped funds, they are funds that are there, it is only the issue of liquidity that is our problem. The issues of liquidity are being addressed as I speak right now. It is something that the president is very concerned about, and that issue, I said that we have addressed it in the UAE and very soon, you will hear from the financial sector,” the minister concluded. 

Nigeria, South Africa sign MoU on air safety standards

In a related development, Nigeria and South Africa signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on air safety standards in a bid to enhance the aviation sector's efficiency and security in both nations. 

Keyamo said the MoU emphasizes the shared commitment of both countries to ensuring the highest level of safety in their aviation industries. 

He said: "For the South African agreement, I also said that it is an immediate deliverable for me under the indicator of ensuring enforcement of the highest standards within our shores. South Africa is doing 92 per cent by ICAO, we are doing 70 per cent and so our agreement today is that, we are signing an agreement with a bigger brother in terms of safety standards in Africa and we are proud to do so because sharing intelligence with them, it means that somebody is lifting us up somewhere. 

"It is going to be a symbiotic relationship, there are areas we are also going to assist them too in terms of safety standards, because we also have our strong points within Nigeria. and that is what we did today."

Air Peace signs deal on new aircrafts, MRO

Simultaneously, Airpeace's Chief Executive Officer, Allen Onyema, made public the procurement of 10 Embraer E175 aircrafts and cemented a maintenance agreement with the fleet company.

This implies that Embraer will provide support in establishing a maintenance center within the country, enabling the maintenance of the fleet to be conducted locally.

According to Onyema, the decision was based on the directive given to him by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development Festus Keyamo, to drive the aviation sector forward while attracting investment through the maintenance policy.

“In line with fleet modernization policy, we just signed a further acquisition, further order of 10 E175, with a stern order of five and five acquisition rights.

“The minister called me two weeks ago and said moving forward, any Nigerian airline that wants to bring in brand-new planes must also think of maintenance capabilities for those planes in-house and within Nigeria.

“He made it compulsory that if you are going into the acquisition of more than 20 planes, you must show evidence that the original equipment manufacturer is going to support the setting up of a maintenance center here and for third parties here MOR. Now with the signature signed today, we have ordered 35 Embraer brand-new fleets.

“We have signed 30 before, of which five have been delivered already, the E2s. Part of the things we signed today is that Embraer is going to help set up the maintenance center in Nigeria and it will be set up with immediate effects. So, this decision will help our national reserves and help conserve the forex of airlines in Africa when this comes to fruition", he added. 

Confirming the maintenance deal, Embraer management said the transaction is worth $ 300m while noting that delivery will begin in 2024.

Embraer said, “Ever since we started this relationship in 2017, it has been smooth and great, and today it’s a momentous day. This transaction costs $ 300m, with the airline moving forward.

“The first two aircraft will be delivered next year. The airline needs to grow. As the business moves forward, we need to work together, and the maintenance will create jobs and drive investment. And we will move forward with Air Peace to drive this growth”.

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