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… may revert to quarantine
There are strong indications that the United Kingdom may rescind its travel ban on Nigeria and revert to a return of quarantine for countries on the Red List particularly Nigerians before the December 20 date for the review of the list.
The review could see Nigerians travelling undergo quarantine in their chosen hotels or homes rather than the current situation where travellers, especially British nationals, are subjected to a 10-day compulsory quarantine at government facilities at a cost of over £2, 000.
A top official of one of the British carriers, who spoke to Aviation Metric under strict condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to disclose the outcome of the meetings held by the British authorities, said: “The UK Red List is going to be reviewed before December 20. I can tell you that authoritatively. They would most likely revert to quarantine as against the blanket ban on Nigerians.”
“Nigeria would most likely exit the Red List but there would be strict rules on quarantine which will be done in a hotel of choice of travellers, or in their homes.”
Aviation Metric learnt that the decision to quickly review the ban rather than wait for December 20 is a result of global pressure especially from Nigeria and South Africa who view the ban or red listing as politically motivated.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and other global bodies have condemned the position taken by the UK and some other nations as hasty and one that is not science-based.
It was also learnt that the enormous pressure from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic may have also paid off as many of the carriers see Nigeria, South Africa as high yield routes that could help them to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was learnt that there has been a lot of diplomatic moves behind the scenes by both the UK and Nigeria to thaw the frosty relations between the two nations over the Omicron outbreak that put Nigeria and over 12 other nations under the dreaded UK Red List, which virtually made it impossible for Nigerian travellers to enter the island nation.
Consequently, UK carriers are left in the cold as per how the situation would pan out if Nigeria decided to retaliate soon by adding the UK to her own type of red list.
Their situation is further fuelled by the alleged threat by Nigeria to, under the principle of reciprocity, bar the two UK-based airlines, BA and Virgin Atlantic.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had, in an audiotape released late Saturday night, explained that it was to reciprocate restricted flights from Nigeria into those countries over the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron.
“We have given our input that it is not acceptable by us and we recommended that Canada, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Argentina should also be put on the Red List. “As they did to us if they do not allow our citizens into their countries; who are they coming, as airlines, to pick from our country?” he said.
Also because of the abysmal passenger traffic, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic could be forced to cut down on their daily frequencies to Lagos and Abuja.
When contacted, Country Commercial Manager, BA in Nigeria and West Africa, Mrs Tutu Otuyalo said her airline was not considering stoppage of flights to Nigeria despite the impasse the Red Listing has caused.
An airline operator, who simply gave his name as ‘Michael’, said it makes no sense to operate near-empty aircraft for a six-hour trip to Nigeria, describing it as a sheer, ‘economic waste’.
Nigerian travellers form 85 per cent of passengers by foreign airlines in Nigeria as the country lacks the capacity to reciprocate many of the Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) because of lack of airlines while many of the designated carriers on international routes lack efficiency.
For now, many of the UK based carriers are running at a loss and might return to profitability when the diplomatic row is resolved.Google+