May 31, 2023

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Emirates granted conditional approval to resume flights to Nigeria

3 min read

The Federal Government of Nigeria has lifted the suspension order placed on Emirates Airlines for unilaterally adding another layer of COVID-19 test for Nigerians travelling to the Dubai, UAE.

It will be recalled that the Emirates and the KLM, had on their own volition prescribed for Nigerians travelling to Amsterdam and Dubai, to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test (RDT) Four (4) hours from the time of flights departure. This requirement was in addition to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test done 72 hours from the date of departure by passengers.

The Federal Government on her own discovered the implementation of the additional requirement as prescribed by the Two (2) airlines but without the prior notification or approval by any agent of the Nigerian government such as the Ministry of Aviation, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, or even the Presidential Task Force, PTF on COVID-19.

That singular decision lured organizations and some laboratories to the provision of RDT testing of which they had not been approved by the PTF, or the aviation regulatory agency or sanctioned by the regulatory agency on public health for RDT.

Hence the PTF directed for the immediate suspension of Emirates Airlines operations to Nigeria effective from yesterday, Thursday 4th February 2021, until when the needed infrastructure and logistics are put in place for the RDT test by the Nigerian Government.

Which in essence meant the airline could look elsewhere since its conditionality could not be immediately satisfied as it will have to wait until such a time when Nigeria government would be able to accredit laboratories for the RDT before it could ply the Lagos and Abuja route.

However, in a sudden twist, Emirates Airlines later today, Friday, 5th February 2021, informed Nigeria’s CAA in writing that government of Its home country, the United Arab Emirates, UAE, had given the airline approval to suspend the pre-departure RDT requirement for passengers travelling on their flight to Dubai.

According to a media statement from NCAA, and signed by the Director-General, Capt. Musa S. Nuhu, it stated that “consequent upon the foregoing, the PTF directed the NCAA to lift the suspension placed on Emirates Airlines flights into Nigeria with effective from 5th February 2021.

The statement further advised the general public that, “Emirates Airlines no longer requires passengers to carry out pre-departure RDT”.

The DG in the statement stated categorically that, “no laboratory has been approved by the PTF and other regulatory agencies to carry out RDT for incoming or departing passengers. The PTF will inform all Nigerians of any change(s) to the above”.

It will be recalled just at the beginning of the week, the Airport company of Dubai issued a directive proscribing all flights emanating from Nigeria but scheduled for a stopover in Dubai.

Mr Boss Mustapha, Chairman, Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, Secretary to Government of the federation, SGF

By the directive from the Dubai airport company, numerous other airlines have been technically rendered redundant as they would not be able to fly Nigerians from Lagos or Abuja to Dubai.

This decision had variously been seen as anti-competition by most industry stakeholders as it was viewed as a means to achieve unfair advantage over its competitors by hiding under the safety protocol of COVID-19, to de-market its competitors.

The airline, Emirates, Dubai Airport company, and perhaps the government of UAE, had been accused by industry analysts for working in league to achieve unfair advantage over its competitors through a subtle monopolization scheme wrapped in that directive from the airport company banning direct flight from Nigeria to Dubai except for Emirate Airlines.

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