Estimated reading time: 7 minute(s)
The Federal Government on Friday rescinded its decision to suspend flight operations by Emirates Airlines into Nigeria.
The government said it had lifted the suspension on the United Arab Emirates carrier with immediate effect.
Announcing this in a statement, Director General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, said the Presidential Task Force (PTF) of COVID19 was made aware of the requirement by Emirates airlines and KLM for passengers travelling from Nigeria on its flights to Dubai and Amsterdam to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test (RDT) four hours from the time of flights departure.
This requirement, the NCAA said, was in addition to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test done 72 hours from the date of departure by passengers.
The regulator said the implementation of the additional requirement by the two airlines commenced without the prior notification or approval of the PTF and other regulatory bodies in Nigeria.
This development, the NCAA further said, led to the provision of RDT testing by organizations and Laboratories that have not been approved by the PTF and other regulatory agencies for RDT at or around our international airports in Lagos and Abuja.
The PTF upon review of the situation directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to inform the airlines to either suspend the requirement for pre-departure RDT or their flights to the country until such a time when the required infrastructure and logistics have been put in place for RDT by the government.
Emirates Airlines, the regulator said, however, continued their operations requiring passengers to carry out the RDT test six hours from the time-of-flight departure from Nigeria.
The PTF therefore directed the immediate suspension of Emirates Airlines operations to Nigeria effective 4th February 2021 until when the needed infrastructure and logistics are put in place for the RDT test by the Nigerian Government.
Emirates Airlines on 5th February 2021 informed the NCAA in writing that the UAE Government had given the airline approval to suspend the pre-departure RDT requirement for passengers travelling on their flight to Dubai.
On the reason for lifting the ban, the NCAA clarified: “Consequent upon the foregoing, the PTF directed the NCAA to lift the suspension placed on Emirates Airlines flights into Nigeria effective from 5th February 2021.
“Emirates Airlines no longer requires passengers to carry out pre-departure RDT.
“No laboratory has been approved by the PTF and other regulatory agencies to carry out RDT for incoming or departing passengers.
“PTF will inform all Nigerians of any change(s) to the above.”.