NIGERIA has been given conditions under which Emirates Airlines will resume flights to the country from United Arab Emirates (UAE) as both countries inch towards ending the flight ban which was imposed on March 17.
In February, Nigerian government officials suspended all Emirates Airlines’ outbound flights for 72 hours following a flagrant breach of the guidelines laid down by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 regarding travel. Nigerian law does not approve the use of rapid antigen tests done at laboratories but Emirates Airlines has been using them as a basis to airlift passengers.
As a result of what it described as a flagrant breach, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) issued a circular on February 4, suspending all Emirates Airlines operations for not adhering to its guidelines. However, the dispute later escalated into a full blown trade war with the airline imposing a blanket ban on all flights to Lagos and Abuja on March 17.
However, in a sign that both sides are close to reaching a resolution, the UAE government has written to Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, listing conditions for the resumption of air operations to and from Nigeria. Over the last few weeks, Emirate and KLM have flown passengers into Nigeria but have refused to fly passengers out while the dispute still lasts.
Now, the UAE government has said it has decided to remove the requirement for a Rapid Antigen Test at the airports in Nigeria. However, the conditions attached to this include that the number of passengers on inbound flights to the UAE must not exceed 200 for two weeks.
Also, it said only direct flights between the UAE and Nigeria will be allowed. Passengers need to present a valid negative Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted within 48 hours before boarding and the UAE embassy in Nigeria needs to be provided with an updated list of the approved PCR test centres by the Nigerian government.