A 72-hour suspension has been placed on outbound Emirates flights from Nigeria by the Federal Government.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) announced the suspension via a circular issued on February 4.
According to the circular, the suspension followed a violation of guidelines placed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The circular which was signed by Musa Nuhu, NCAA director-general revealed that the airline has been airlifting passengers from Nigeria using rapid antigen tests conducted by laboratories not approved by regulatory authorities.
The circular read, “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.
This comes days after authorities in Dubai released fresh travel conditions for Nigerian passengers.
Dubai Airports, operators of Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, said in a notice that they now restrict Nigerian passengers from transiting through other airports.
It was also stated in the notice that all passengers are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 certificate and the PCR was muct be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.
The notice was titled, ‘Dubai Travel Protocol Update –Travel From Nigeria’.
It read, “Kindly be advised that effective from 01 February 2021, the following conditions must be met for travel from Nigeria:
“All passengers are required to obtain negative COVID-19 certificate. The PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.
“All passengers are required to conduct a rapid COVID-19 test and obtain a negative result within four hours of their departure time.
“Passengers must travel directly from Nigeria to Dubai. No passenger may enter Dubai from any other country/station if they have visited or transited from Nigeria in the last 14 days.”