The volume of trade between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirate (UAE) increased from US$ 106 million in 2004 to US$ 857 million in 2009, representing a 710% increase over a five-year period.
The private Business Day newspaper reported on Thursday that the boost in trade between the two countries was as a result of the air connectivity occasioned by increased Emirates Airline traffic on the Nigerian route.
The airline, in a document which examined the impact on bilateral trade with other countries, showed that among all the 15 countries where Emirates operates, the positive trade and commerce impact on Nigeria was just a little lower than Mauritius whose trade volume increased by 951% in a five-year cumulative percentage growth.
“Nigeria is experiencing strong demographic and economic growth. The country is strategic to Emirates’ global expansion, as Africa is,' Emirates Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, Thierry Antinori, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
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.
The airline Executive Vice President added: ”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, with the Airbus 380 flying to 12 cities.
'The new service will also help create new opportunities for business, industry and tourism.”
A list of foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, released by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in December 2010, showed that Emirates closely followed British Airways in terms of ticket sales between January 2009 and December 2009, grossing 21.5 billion naira (about US$ 135 million).
As the bilateral 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 10 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, Ghana, 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.