The United Arab Emirates, UAE, has extended the suspension of flights from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) from February 28 to March 10.
This was contained in the updated travel protocol posted on the website of the Emirates Airline, the flag carrier of the UAE.
In the update titled, “Temporary suspension of flights from Nigeria to Dubai until 10 March” posted on Sunday afternoon, the airline which had earlier announced the suspension of its flights from Nigeria until February 28 said the suspension has been further shifted by two weeks.
The update read, “In line with government directives, passenger services from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) to Dubai are temporarily suspended until 10 March 2021.
“Customers from both Abuja and Lagos will not be accepted for travel prior to or including this date. Passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not allowed entry into the UAE (whether terminating in or connecting through Dubai).
“Emirates flights from Dubai to Lagos and Abuja will continue to operate as per the normal schedule.
“We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking. Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services to Dubai for our customers when conditions allow.”
Recall that CityNews Nigeria had earlier reported that the suspension of Emirates flights came few days after the suspension of the airline by the Federal Government over the introduction of rapid antigen test as a requirement for Dubai travelers which is against the Nigerian negative PCR requirements.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had penultimate week banned Emirates Airlines’ operations in Nigeria for violating COVID-19 protocols.
Director-General of the NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu announced the ban in a letter to the airline dated February 4, 2021.
The NCAA said the ban was necessitated by the continued airlift of passengers from Nigeria using the Rapid Antigen Tests (RDT) conducted by laboratories that are “neither approved nor authorized by the appropriate regulatory.”
This, according to the apex aviation regulatory authority is in flagrant 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”.
Though the ban was lifted the following day after Emirates announced the withdrawal of the antigen test, the airline afterwards suspended all Nigerian flights and only allow flights from Dubai to Nigeria.