Flights to Nigeria from UAE remain suspended till August 20

 

Dubai based Emirates airline said its flights to and from Nigeria will remain suspended until August 20.

It was not however stated if the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Nigeria’s frosty relationship over the modalities for COVID-19 test would have been resolved on or before August 20 as resumption of flights is not in the hands of Emirates Airlines but the UAE government.

Customers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai, said Emirates on its website. “Affected flight bookings have been cancelled.”

“If your flight has been cancelled or impacted by route suspensions due to COVID‑19 restrictions, you don’t need to call us immediately for re-booking – you can simply hold on to your Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with your booking office or us to make new travel plans,” said the airline.

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Flights were expected to resume yesterday after UAE said residents from Nigeria, Uganda and a few other countries could re-enter, provided they met certain conditions.

Emirates said its contact centres were “experiencing a greater volume of calls than anticipated.”

Meanwhile, Dubai’s flagship carrier is ramping up flights to other destinations in Africa. The carrier has increased flights to Johannesburg from daily to 11 weekly flights, with the addition of four linked flights with Durban; the airline also flies to and from Cape Town with three weekly services.

Emirates has also reinstated capacity on its flights to and from Lusaka (linked with Harare) and Entebbe with five weekly flights each.

What started as a child’s play on February 1, 2021 later snowballed into major diplomatic spat between both nations; although, they have hidden under COVID-19 pandemic to try to force each other into doing its bidding. This has remained one of the smoothest political maneuverings one has ever seen as both nations use two instruments of their countries to play the game.

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Vaccinated Emirates crew

In February 2021, the UAE shut transit flights from Nigeria to Dubai. The country followed that up by banning direct flights originating from.

The UAE was trying to force the hands of the Nigerian government to accept its rapid test policy, but the Nigerian government maintained an agreement extracted from them to suspend the exercise at such a time that the required infrastructure was made available by the Nigerian government.

The UAE had accused Nigeria of lax COVID-19 tests and the procurement of fake COVID-19 certificates which had led to a spike in coronavirus cases in the UAE; the reason for the introduction of Rapid Antigen Testing (RDT) on intending travelers from Nigeria to Dubai.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) decided  to suspend Emirates from operating to Nigeria  for taking an action which did not sit well with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and consequently suspended the carrier.

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The carrier made a U-turn in June when within 48 hours of lifting travel suspension  on Nigeria, South Africa and India re-imposed travel ban on the West African cities of Lagos and Abuja with effect from June 21, 2021.

The re-imposition of travel ban on the West African nation elicited shock among teeming Nigerian travelers who got excited by the lifting of the ban imposed by UAE since February this year following spat between UAE and Nigeria over modalities for conducting tests on travelers to and from Dubai to Nigeria.

The UAE did not explain what influenced her decision to make-a U-turn to re-impose a ban on the country after it lifted the ban that would have reinstated air travel between the two nations.

Wole Shadare