The Nigerian Government has suspended immediately the flights of Emirates Airlines into its territory in response to the Nigeria Specific Rule of Airport Rapid Antigen test 4 hours before flight to be carried out by the airline.
Dubai Airport has insisted that only passengers flying Emirates will be allowed into the airport. That decision automatically bans other Airlines from carrying passengers to Dubai from Nigeria. This created a monopoly and immediate Price hike for the travellers who had to cancel their flights on other airlines to buy Emirates tickets.
“For us, passengers do the test 72 hours before departure and then the PCR test and the PTF recognizes the rights of all countries to put in measures to protect their citizens just like Nigeria has done.
In a Letter to country Manager of Emirates in Nigeria a copy cited by Atqnews, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Agency, NCAA, asked Emirates to Immediately Suspend its flights until it authorized to do so.
“However, these countries and airlines cannot determine for Nigeria who to approve or how these test will be done. We are going to be having a discussion with these airlines and these countries.
“If they insist on having these additional tests being done, then PTF has decided that their operations will be suspended into Nigeria until the time the PTF puts in a structure and deals with the logistics on how this second test can be done successfully within four hours before departure to these two countries.
“This will enable the PTF to have a clear and transparent process on determining who will do these tests because there is a requirement for accreditation by NCDC, National Laboratory Council, Lagos state government for Lagos airport and FCT for Abuja airport.”
President of NANTA, Mrs Susan Akporiaye who expressed shock at the development says, the latest COVID 19 protocols from the Dubai airport Authority, requesting that Nigerian passengers undergo a rapid response COVID 19 antigen test before departure to Dubai is disturbing.
This is according to a Nigerian Website Newsbulletin.ng, the rapid response antigen test can only be done in Lagos and Abuja with Dubai bound passengers from the two Nigerian cities, paying 36, 800 naira and 25, 800 naira respectively, in addition to the PCR test from approved laboratories by Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task force.
She also expressed shock at the insistence that Nigerians bound to Dubai must fly only Emirates airlines, foreclosing and boxing out transit routes opportunities into Dubai from other carriers.
“We are studying the situation and consulting widely as the new travel restrictions may put additional financial pressures on Nigerian passengers and also create a monopolistic hold on the route. Indeed, we don’t know what is going on in the minds of other countries and their airlines, a situation that may trigger off retaliatory actions”.
Effective February 1, the Dubai Airport Authority will close its facilities to other airlines, flying passengers from Nigeria except they fly Emirates airlines.
Mrs. Akporiaye in a statement, states that the Dubai airport Authority should have shown its open hands in the effort to check the COVID pandemic by requesting other carriers and their home governments to set up Rapid Antigen test at their various airports to enable passengers on transit to undergo tests before flying into Dubai.
“We at NANTA believe that such gestures and arrangements will enhance the credibility of the additional COVID 19 protocols into Dubai and also encourage others in travel business to recover and contribute to building a global coalition against the impact of COVID.”
Though the industry is polarised by the Dubai initiative, including the banning of transit passengers from other airlines to Dubai, the fear of under hand competition targeting other carriers by Emirates is gaining ground and causing apprehension among travel trade operators and Nigerian travel community.
“We are worried and call on the Minister of Aviation to help intervene and interrogate this development. We appreciate the efforts of governments and airlines to help secure the lives of passengers and also protect their citizens which NANTA Supports in all ramifications but this additional requirement from Dubai airport Authority and Emirates is far flung and we crave for a better arrangement, possibly involving other stakeholders. In this pandemic situation, no man is an island”.