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COVID-19: FG suspends Emirates airline from operating in Nigeria

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended Emirates’ operations in Nigeria effective after 72 hours from Thursday midnight for violating the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 directives and protocols.
This follows the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recent COVID-19 policy restricting Nigerian passengers from transiting through other airports into Dubai city.

The Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 (PTF) through the NCAA, ordered that during the 72 hours after which the suspension takes effect, the airline is only authorised to fly passengers into Nigeria but are not permitted to fly passengers out of Nigeria. The NCAA stated that additional sanctions will be imposed on Emirates airline in the coming days.

In a letter dated 4th February 2021 and signed by the Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, he said, “It has been brought to the attention of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19 (PTF) that Emirates has continued to airlift passengers from Nigeria using Rapid Antigen Tests (RDT) conducted by laboratories that are neither approved nor authorised.

“It is in violation of paragraph five of NCAA letter of February 2, 2021 addressed to your good self. The paragraph clearly states:

“Based on the foregoing and to enable Nigerian passengers put in place needed infrastructure and logistics for COVID-19 RDT testing for departing passengers, the PTF has directed that Emirates Airline should either accept passengers without RDT pending when the infrastructure and logistics are put in place or suspend its flights to and from Nigeria until such a time when the required infrastructure and logistics are fully established and implemented.

“Emirates airlines has not been in compliance with the two options given by the PTF as records obtained by the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) indicates that Emirates airlines operated flights from Lagos and Abuja airports.”

On February 1, the Airports Operations Control Center, Dubai, sent a letter to Nigerian Travel Trade partners, stating that passengers from Nigeria can no longer travel through other countries or airports to the city. The notice by Dubai Airports came after the United Kingdom blocked passengers from Dubai from entering the UK on January 29, as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The notice was titled, ‘Dubai Travel Protocol Update –Travel from Nigeria’ and it read: “Kindly be advised that effective from 01 February 2021, the following conditions must be met for travel from Nigeria: All passengers are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 certificate. The PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.
“All passengers are required to conduct a rapid COVID-19 test and obtain a negative result within four hours of their departure time. Passengers must travel directly from Nigeria to Dubai. No passenger may enter Dubai from any other country/station if they have visited or transited from Nigeria in the last 14 days.”

What the policy implies is that no other airline would be able to fly Nigerian passengers straight to Dubai besides Emirates, a UAE owned airline, which has its major hub at the Dubai International Airport. Only two airlines currently fly directly from Nigeria to UAE; Emirates and Air Peace, with the latter operating from Sharjah. The beneficiary airline, which is Emirates, said it will start a rapid antigen test at the airport four hours before flight.

Industry stakeholders believe that Dubai is intentionally creating monopoly for Emirates with this policy and urged the Federal Government to intervene by reciprocating, as the development would greatly increase the cost of travel.



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Posted by on Feb 6 2021. Filed under Aviation, Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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