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Nigeria bans Emirates flights over breach of Covid-19 protocols

Flight and airline suspensions continue to abound. This week, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) slapped Gulf carrier Emirates with a flight suspension. The three-day ban encompassed all outbound flights from Nigeria and came into effect at midnight Thursday, February 4th.

According TheCable, the reason behind the suspension was that the airline had violated guidelines from the country’s presidential task force on COVID-19. The offense lay in accepting passengers for boarding that had rapid antigen COVID test certificates issued by laboratories not on the list of ones approved by the authorities.

The ban does not include inbound traffic, and Emirates may continue to bring passengers into the country. However, the NCAA has warned the airline that further sanctions could be imposed and that it would inform the UAE flag-carrier as to when it would be allowed to resume normal operations.

The first case of the so-called UK-variant of the virus was found in Nigeria a little over a week ago. As a result, Emirates announced that starting on February 1st, passengers would need to provide a negative rapid test result from within four hours of departure, in addition to a PCR-test no older than 72 hours.

Passengers need to pay N36,800 ($96.5) for the test at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos and N25,800 ($67.7) at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja. However, the authorities said they had not yet certified the kiosks providing the tests. Thus, the NCAA sent a letter to Emirates with a somewhat complicated ultimatum while it worked on setting up a testing infrastructure.

“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,” the letter, seen by TheCable, said.

As Emirates went ahead with accepting passengers with tests from non-government approved laboratories, the NCAA decided to shut the operations at both airports down.

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