Nigeria, Saudi Arabia resume joint cargo flights in scramble for $6 trillion market

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, has disclosed that cargo flight operations between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia are set to resume after years of inactivity.

Keyamo announced this via a post on his official X (formerly Twitter) account on Tuesday.

The Aviation Minister noted that he discussed the resumption of cargo flight operations with Saleh Al-Jasser, Minister of Transport and Logistics of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Monday, on the sidelines of the ongoing Future Aviation Forum (FAF) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The post further indicated that both sides agreed to resume cargo operations between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, and focal persons were appointed to work out the modalities.

Air cargo moves over $6 trillion worth of goods, representing approximately 35% of world trade by value, according to the International Air Transport Association  (IATA).

Nigeria and Saudi are eyeing a little chunk of this big global largesse.

“Yesterday, at the sidelines of the on-going Future Aviation Forum (FAF) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I met my counterparts from the State of Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“With the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the discussion was about the resumption of cargo flights operations between both countries that had gone comatose over the years. Both sides agreed to resume the operations and appointed focal persons to work out the modalities,” the post read in part.

Keyamo’s post on X noted that he met with Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti, Qatar’s Minister of Transport, at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh. They discussed implementing the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) and other mutual interests.

The Aviation Minister has repeatedly emphasized that one of his main focus is to review and ensure compliance with Nigeria’s BASA arrangements, as unfavourable agreements have negatively impacted Nigeria’s aviation sector.

What you should know

Recent developments have shown positive progress in Nigeria’s aviation sector, particularly in its relations with the Middle East, despite previous challenges.

One significant development was the announcement by Adnan Kazim, Deputy President and Chief Commercial Officer of Emirates Airline, confirming the resumption of the airline’s services to Nigeria on October 1, 2024.

Emirates Airline had, in October 2022, suspended flight operations to Nigeria due to its inability to repatriate trapped funds in the country.

Emirates Airline’s planned resumption of services to Nigeria is largely attributed to President Bola Tinubu’s diplomatic visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October 2023.

During this visit, Nigeria’s President reached an agreement with the UAE President to lift the visa ban on Nigerians and resume flights between the two countries.


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