Etihad Airways, the Abu-Dhabi-based airline, plans to cease its operations in Nigeria according to a document exclusively seen by Lagos Times newspaper. In a letter addressed to the Managing Director of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria from its local arm Etihad Airways P.J.S.C, Etihad informed the nation’s aviation regulatory agency that it had ceased operations in Nigeria and would close its offices.
The airline said it had appointed an accounting firm Bola-Sadipe and Company for the “purpose of attending to outstanding issues relating to the operations of the airline in Nigeria.
Etihad Airways is part of the Etihad Aviation Group and is the second flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates operating out of Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, near Abu Dhabi’s International Airport. Etihad commenced operations in November 2003 and is the second largest airline in the UAE after Emirates.
The airline operates more than 1,000 flights per week to over 120 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America, with a fleet of 102 Airbus and Boeing aircraft as of February 2020. In 2015, Etihad carried 14.8 million passengers, a 22.3% increase from the previous year, delivering revenues of US$9.02 billion and net profits of US$103 million. Its main base is Abu Dhabi International Airport.
In addition to its core activity of passenger transportation, Etihad also operates Etihad Holidays and Etihad Cargo. Etihad established its airline alliance, Etihad Airways Partners, in October 2015 which was disbanded in 2018 after several of its members fell into financial difficulties.
Etihad started its Nigeria subsidiary in 2009 and operated four services a week to Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, and Abuja, the country’s capital city.
At the time of the launch, Etihad said that the two Nigerian cities would join Johannesburg, Cairo, Casablanca and Khartoum as part of Etihad’s route network in Africa. The addition of the new flights was intended to increase bilateral trade between the UAE and Nigeria, for business travellers and freight forwarders.
In September, Etihad was one of the airlines barred from Nigeria after the aviation ministry retaliated against flag carriers of countries which had barred Nigerian visitors on tourist citizens at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Etihad Airways and Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.