The outbound flights of Emirates Airlines from Nigeria have been hit with a 72-hour suspension by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
This is contained in a circular issued on February 4 which states that the suspension followed a violation of guidelines placed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Reporters At Large learnt.
The airline is accused of airlifting passengers from Nigeria using rapid antigen tests done at laboratories which are not approved by regulatory authorities.
The circular read, “Based on the foregoing 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.
“Emirates Airlines has not complied with the two options given by the PTF as records obtained from Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) indicates that Emirates Airlines operated the flights from both Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.”
This comes days after Dubai Airports, operators of Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, released fresh travel conditions for Nigerian passengers.
Part of the conditions required passengers to present negative COVID-19 certificate from PCR conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.
This was announced in a notice titled, ‘Dubai Travel Protocol Update –Travel From Nigeria’.
It read, “Kindly be advised that effective from 01 February 2021, the following conditions must be met for travel from Nigeria:
“All passengers are required to obtain negative COVID-19 certificate. The PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.
“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 passenger may enter Dubai from any other country/station if they have visited or transited from Nigeria in the last 14 days.”
According to a travel expert, Ikechi Uko, the measure implies that only Emirates Airlines would have access to commuting passengers from Nigeria.
“It is going to increase flight tickets because everybody is going to fly Emirates and they will increase their fares and bring in bigger planes to fly people,” Uko said.