Pressure as FG bars Emirates from Nigeria

  • FG, Emirates hold talks

Passengers from Nigeria who had been booked on Emirates flights to Dubai received the news of the suspension of Emirates from Nigeria to Dubai with so much apprehension and confused on their next line of action.

The news of the action of the Federal Government led to calls to the airline and travel agents just as the UAE/ Emirates Airlines and the Federal Government were said to be holding crucial talks on how to resolve the impasse.

It was not known if the 7pm Emirates flights to Dubai from Abuja today would depart as many senators who were booked on the flight are said to be pressurizing the Federal Government to allow the aircraft to depart.

For what it described violations of its directives on testing of departing passengers, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) suspended Emirates from operating flights to Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) effective 72 hours from Thursday midnight for violating COVID-19 directives and protocol issued by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF).

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DG NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu

The ban was communicated in a letter dated February 4, 2021 to the country Manager of Emirates Airlines by the Director General, NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu.

The NCAA Director-General attributed the action to the continued airlift of passengers from Nigeria using the Rapid Antigen Tests, RDT conducted by laboratories that are neither approved or authorised by the appropriate regulatory body which it said was in fragrant violation of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 directive.

“This is a violation of paragraph 5 of the NCAA letter with REF: NCAA/DG/AIR11/16/281 of 02 February 2021 addressed to your good self. The paragraph clearly states, “Based on the forgoing and to enable the Nigerian government to put in place the needed infrastructure and logistics for COVID-19 RDT testing for departing passengers, the PTF has directed that Emirates Airlines 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”.

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“This is in addition to an advert by Emirates airlines for RDT by the Travel clinic and medical Mobile Laboratory in Lagos and Abuja, two organization that are not approved by the regulatory bodies and PTF to conduct RDT for departing passengers”.

He says, the PTF takes these violations of its instructions seriously and as therefore directed that “Emirates should suspend its operations to Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) effective 72 hours from midnight (2300z) on Thursday 04 February, 2021”.

 

Emirates A380 aircraft set for take-off

“During the 72 hours leeway, Emirates airlines is only authorized to bring in passengers into Nigeria while outbound passengers are not allowed”.

“The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority will impose additional sanctions on Emirates airlines for the violations of the PTF directive and COVID-19 Protocols”.

Nuhu accused the airline of not been in compliance with the two options given by the PTF as records of operated flights by Emirates Airlines from Lagos and Abuja obtained from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency NAMA had shown.

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“Emirates Airlines will be informed in due time as when to resume operations to Nigeria”.

It would be recalled that 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”.

Wole Shadare