Johannesburg - South Africa has threatened to ground Emirates unless a minister of the United Arab Emirates meets Transport Minister Dipuo Peters in the country by Monday.
According to the Sunday Times, the sudden move came on Friday after a junior official issued the ultimatum through the UAE embassy.
With the holiday season approaching, the move poses a huge risk to thousands of travellers who use Dubai as a connecting point from Europe, USA and Australia among other countries.
The row is reportedly centred around the introduction of a fourth daily flight between Durban and Johannesburg – a move that was granted in July but hurriedly withdrawn by the department which told the airline that due process had not been followed and permission was withdrawn.
Two weeks ago, Emirates filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court and obtained an order compelling the Department of Transport to honour the written authorisation for the additional flight.
In July, News24 reported that Emirates was given the go ahead by government to introduce a fourth daily flight between Dubai and Johannesburg.
The airline announced in a media release that it was lifting its number of daily flights to South Africa to seven.
This would have increased the total number of scheduled flights between the two countries to 49 a week, re-affirming its position as one of the largest flight operators into South Africa.
In addition to Johannesburg, Emirates also services the popular cities of Cape Town and Durban.
Linking South Africa with Emirates’ global network, the additional flight demonstrates the importance of the South African market for Emirates.
“We are introducing our fourth daily service between Dubai and Johannesburg to meet the growing passenger demand for flights between these two important business and tourism hubs.
"The increased frequency gives our customers greater flexibility in their travel plans and enhances connectivity to other flights on the Emirates network through our Dubai hub," said Orhan Abbas, Emirates senior vice president, commercial operations, Latin America, Central and Southern Africa at the time.