UAE, Nigeria in battle of wits?

  •  Again, Emirates cancels flights, passengers stranded

For two consecutive days, Emirates Airlines failed to operate out of Lagos and Abuja amid concerns that the pact reached by Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the later’s suspension of Rapid Antigen Testing (RDT) prior to departure of Emirates flights from Nigeria with immediate effect until such a time that the required infrastructure is made available by the Nigerian government may not have gone down well with the carrier

A highly placed airline official who is in the know of the spat told our correspondent that both the airline and the Federal Government are trying to outwit each other on the different positions taken by the two parties.

While Emirates, he said, is trying to force the hands of the Nigerian government to accept its rapid test policy, the Nigerian government are going by the agreement extracted from them to suspend the exercise such a time that the required infrastructure is made available by the Nigerian government.

READ ALSO:  Nigeria, SA deepen relations as SAA restarts Jo’burg-Lagos route amid fanfare

The UAE had accused Nigeria of lax COVID-19 tests and the procurement of fake COVID-19 certificates which had led to 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 carrier had been suspended by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for taking an action which did not sit well with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and consequently suspended the carrier last week Friday.

 

Emirates aircraft and crew members

Few hours after the suspension, the airline got a reprieve when the suspension was lifted after Emirates backed down.

The airline immediately issued a statement pledging its commitment to the lucrative Dubai-Nigeria route and rallied passengers booked on the flights for February 6 and February 7, 2021 as travelers heaved a sigh of relief that they would eventually be airlifted.

READ ALSO:  Nigeria loses N110 billion, 500m litres aviation fuel annually to Benin, Ghana

The airline in a notice to its trade partners on Saturday said, “We wish to inform you that LOS-DXB (EK784) and ABV-DXB (EK786) flights scheduled for Saturday 06 February 2021 that have been cancelled due to operational reasons. DXB-LOS (EK783) and DXB-ABV (EK785) will however operate to bring incoming passengers”.

“For passengers affected kindly apply re-booking options provided in our COVID-19 waiver policy previously communicated. We hope to revert to you as soon as possible, regarding the status of our future flights.

“As always, we thank you for your continued support. If you require any further assistance please contact us”.

 

Dubai City

Sunday’s notice shattered the hope of travelers as the carrier said again, “We wish to inform you that LOS-DXB (EK784) and ABV-DXB (EK786) flights scheduled for Sunday 07 February 2021 have been cancelled due to operational reasons. DXB-LOS (EK783) and DXB-ABV (EK785) will however operate to bring incoming passengers”.

READ ALSO:  Nigeria’s Aviation Roadmap: Long In Promise, Short In Delivery?

“For passengers affected, kindly apply re-booking options provided in our COVID-19 waiver policy previously communicated. We hope to revert to you as soon as possible, regarding the status of our future flights”.

But many of the travelers were shocked when the carrier at the last minute on Sunday emailed their passengers and trade partners to announce cancellation of their Lagos and Abuja flights leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.

Many of the intending passengers were left frustrated, particularly those on medical trips and others who were billed to travel for other important matters.

Wole Shadare