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The United Arab Emirates may have clandestinely killed competition as the country has effectively shut transit flights from Nigeria to Dubai. Only direct flights originating from Nigeria are now permitted to fly directly into UAE.
Aside that, many Nigerians who had booked flights to Dubai through Addis Ababa, Nairobi, Cairo, Kigali and other European destinations are cut in the web of the new policy that intends to reduce the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The situation could lead to astronomical air fare from Lagos or Abuja to Dubai as other carriers like Egypt Air in a memo to its trade partners said, “Sequence to the memo we received from Dubai Airport Authority asking all Nigeria travelers coming to Dubai to fly directly effective February 1, 2021”.
“In view of this we, therefore request you to kindly notify our esteemed passengers that Egyptair will not lift passengers from Nigeria to Dubai from January 31, 2021 until further notice. You are hereby advice to check & cancel all your bookings & inform your passengers this new development”
We are in view of the above expressly authorising full refund for those who want to make refund and seek for alternative or tickets will be opened for future flights for passengers needing to keep their tickets. We thank you for all the trust you reposed on our carrier & promised to update you if any further development on this in the nearest future”.
The UAE in a travel advisory tagged, “DubaiTravel Protocol Update-Travel from Nigeria”, stated that all departing Nigeria to Dubai are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 certificate, adding that the PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.
It further stated that 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 passengers may enter Dubai from any other country/station if they have visited or transited via Nigeria in the last 14 days”.
President, National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Mrs. Suzan Akporaiye told our correspondent that before now, travelers had capacity issues for people travellng to Dubai because of restrictions imposed by different governments.
She noted that the new travel policy by the UAE authority would further shrink capacity with difficulty of how to fly Nigerians to a place they see as a second home because of the ease of getting to the country.
“More passengers will suffer. I don’t think it was right to take such decisions which I believe is totally uncalled for. It is not done in the good spirit of sportsmanship. Dubai is like home to Nigerians. They introduced a second antigen or rapid test; they should have left it at that. It is unfair competition”.
It is an opportunity for our own carrier, Air Peace but the choice of Sharjah makes it a little bit difficult for them. I see them increasing frequencies to Lagos to two daily flights and one from Abuja”.
Former Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi said if the world did not come together to draw acceptable rules on travel restrictions, the whole idea of testing would be marred by political considerations.
He stated that the idea of each country rolling out its guidelines would be taken advantage of by nations to arm twist competition, just as he called on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to draw up acceptable procedure that leaves no room for political manipulation and arm-twisting by nations for their airlines.