New economic activities have arisen between Nigeria and the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) as a result of the air connectivity occasioned by Emirates Airline. This has increased the bilateral trade volumes between both countries to $857 million in 2009 from $106 million in 2004, a 710 percent increase in a 5-year period.
A document in which Emirates recently examined the impact on bilateral trade to 15 countries following the launch of services between 2002 and 2007, showed that among all the fifteen countries Emirates started operating into since 2002, the positive trade and commerce impact on Nigeria is just a little lower than Mauritius whose trade volume increased by 951 percent in 5-year cumulative percentage growth.
Emirates started operations into Nigeria in 2004 and has witnessed tremendous increase in traffic figures and ticket sales as the route became one of the most attractive to traders who come from far and wide to do business in Nigeria.
For instance, many traders prefer to first go through Dubai to connect other European countries in order to buy goods to either take back to Nigeria or take to their destinations.
A list of foreign airlines operating into Nigeria released by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in December 2010 showed that Emirates closely follows British Airways in terms of tickets sales between January 2009 and December 2009, grossing N21, 522,232,269.60.
As the bi-lateral trade increases with traffic, the airline has signed another agreement with Nigeria’s Ministry of Aviation to commence a daily linked service to Abuja and Kano from 1 August 2014.
The announcement follows Emirates’ recent milestone of ten years of successful operations to Lagos, to which the airline flies twice daily, making 14 frequencies in a week.
While witnessing the boom in traffic, just over a year after it started operations in 2004, Emirates increased its services from four to six flights a week, and following further demand, it became a daily operation in October 2005.
In 2006, Lagos was delinked from Accra and became a direct service to Dubai and in February 2009, a second daily service was introduced, and today each flight is served with a Boeing 777-300 ER.
“Nigeria is experiencing strong demographic and economic growth. The country is strategic to Emirates’ global expansion, as Africa is. With our decision to start a daily linked service to Abuja and Kano we will now offer from three major cities in the country a very convenient and comfortable access to Dubai, and to Emirates network via Dubai, particularly the Middle East and Asia Pacific, where Emirates is flying to more than 30 destinations, including the Airbus 380 to 12 cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Sydney. The new service will also help create new opportunities for business, industry and tourism,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.
Analysts say that apart from the fact that ‘Abuja is also the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States and the regional headquarters of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries,
Kano, the capital of Kano State in northern Nigeria, is the second most populous city in Nigeria after Lagos, therefore, Emirates knows where best to get its traffic.
“When airlines want to expand into new markets, countries often ask how it will benefit their national economies. The answer is clear: increased connectivity between markets spurs new economic activity such as trade, tourism and investment. Without connectivity, countries often instead struggle to keep pace,” Emirates said in the report.
Meanwhile, Emirates SkyCargo, the freight division of the airline, introduced a scheduled freighter service to Kano in October 2013, and with Abuja joining the network, Emirates will now fly to 26 destinations in Africa and 142 worldwide in 80 countries.