A letter signed by NCAA’s Director General, Captain Musa Nuhu and dated February 4, 2020 with reference number NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/285, addressed to the Country Manager of Emirates Airlines in Nigeria, stated that the airline has violated the protocols set by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
It added that the airline ‘has continued to airlift passengers from Nigeria using the Rapid Antigen Test (RDT) conducted by laboratories that are neither approved nor authorized by the appropriate regulatory bodies’.
The NCAA added that, ‘Emirates has not been in compliance with the two options given by the PTF as record obtained from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) indicates that Emirates airline operated flights from Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The letter added that the PTF takes the violations of the instructions seriously and has directed that Emirates airlines should suspend its operations to Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) effective 72 hours from midnight (23.00z) on Thursday, February 4, 2021.
It added that ‘during the 72 hour leeway, Emirates airlines is only authorized to bring passengers into Nigeria, outbound passengers are not authorized.
Recall that last week, Dubai Airport Authority issued some travel protocol to passengers travelling from Nigeria.
The Dubai Airport operations control Centre notice to travel partners issued last week indicates that the airport would only welcome passengers travelling directly from Nigeria.
It indicates further that passengers would not be allowed to connect Dubai from any other country or station if they have visited Nigeria or transited via Nigeria in the last 14 days to the travel date.
Commenting on the development, Olumide Ohunayo, a travel consultant with Zenith Travels, said the COVID -19 protocols were in place but faulted the fact that passengers must travel direct to Dubai from Nigeria.
Also reacting, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd), said apart from the health protocols, the other message is clear-they do not want a private airline unless it is a flag carrier or national carrier.
Ojikutu lambasted the Federal government for not being proactive, saying it should have designated Nigerian carriers as flag carriers since it was taking many years to establish a national carrier.
He said the only reason the Dubai airport authority would want to discuss with Nigerian government before taking any decision is when the airline is a national carrier or a flag carrier.
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