As the Nigerian government on the night of Monday 15th March 2021, pronounced a temporary ban on the operations of Emirates airline from Africa’s largest market, the Dutch airline, on Tuesday 16th March, began its operations out of Nigeria from Lagos.
Emirates airline earned a ban from the federal government because of its persistence in refusing to fly Nigerians without a pre-boarding rapid diagnostic test (RTD’s).
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, PTF, on COVID-19, Mr Boss Mustapha who announced the suspension also added that KLM will resume outbound flights from Lagos on 16th March 2021, without a pre-boarding rapid diagnostic test (RTD’s)
Recall that Emirate and KLM had in the past few weeks flown passengers into Nigeria but refused to fly passengers out due to the differences in the government of Nigeria’s stance on RTD and the position of governments at the home countries of the airlines on the pre-boarding test.
Boss Mustapha further disclosed that a letter had been dispatched to Emirates airlines in respect of the flights suspension with effect from midnight Wednesday, 17th March 2021. He however noted that discussions were ongoing towards the amicable settlement of the impasse.
According to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, the position of the two airlines on pre-boarding rapid testing were discriminatory and devoid of credible scientific explanation.
Aviation Minister went down the memory lane to narrate at the media briefing as follows, “regarding KLM and Emirate airlines, at the time that we resumed flight, these two airlines made demands that there would be PCR test for passengers within 72 hours of their flight and there will also be antigens rapid test at the airport and also a PCR test on arrival in their countries.”
Hadi Sirika argued that the position of the two airlines “is devoid of any scientific reasons because the virus itself will incubate at least within or after 72 hours,” he said.
He spoke further that,“so, it sounds not correct for you to take a PCR test within 72 hours and take a rapid test before flight and seven hours later, you take another test, you are likely to show negative and the reasons at the time was that the PCR results are being faked.”
However, events had revealed the smart Dutch airline KLM had eaten the humble pie, as it heralded the resumption of operations “from Lagos as of today 16th March 2021 with a change in the COVID test policy”.
The airline announced an adjustment in its pre-flight testing narratives and as approved by the Dutch government thus;
“Passengers who transfer in the Netherlands and continue to travel by aircraft only need to show a negative NAAT (PCR) test* result issued within 72 hours before arrival in Amsterdam. An additional rapid test is no longer necessary for transfer passengers”
The statement by the further explained that, “all customers (from 13 years old and over) traveling to the Netherlands countries must show; either a negative NAAT (PCR) test* result issued within 24 hours before boarding (instead of 12 hours)”
Another adjustment in the narratives according to KLM is that, “passenger must show a negative rapid test result issued within 24 hours before boarding (instead of 4 hours) and a negative NAAT (PCR)* test result issued within 72 hours before arrival in Amsterdam”.
Explanatory note as attached by the airline; * COVID-19 NAAT test is new terminology for COVID-19 PCR tests. COVID-19 NAAT tests are: PCR, mPOCT, NAAT, RT-PCR, RT-LAMP and TMA.Share