The Federal Government of Nigeria has retaliated Emirates’ new COVID-19 protocol against Nigerian passengers by banning the airline from Nigeria airspace.
In a circular, dated February 4, and sited by The Boss, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) accused Emirates Airlines of violating guidelines put in place by the presidential taskforce on COVID-19.
The circular, signed by NCAA Director-General, Musa Nuhu, the airline has been airlifting passengers from Nigeria using rapid antigen tests conducted by laboratories not approved by regulatory authorities.
It would be recalled that Emirates Airlines had earlier announced additional COVID-19 test requirement for passengers and also banned transit flights operated by other airlines with Nigerians on them.
The NCAA said a February 2, 2021, letter sent to the airline had clearly stated that: “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 been in compliance 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” the circular read.
“Emirates should suspend its operations to Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) effective 72 hours from midnight on Thursday, February 4, 2021.
“During the 72-hour leeway, Emirates Airlines is only authorised to bring passengers into Nigeria. Outbound passengers are not authorised.”
The NCAA said additional sanctions would be imposed on Emirates Airlines for the violations of COVID-19 protocols and the airline will be informed as to when to resume operations.
The ban is expected to take effect 72hours from midnight of Thursday, February 4, 2021.