Yusuf Bello| Hours after it announced the suspension of Emirate airline operations in Nigeria, the Federal Government placed a ban on Emirates Airlines has suddenly lifted the ban on the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based carrier.
This followed the decision of the airline to withdraw the Rapid Antigen Testing (RDT) as a requirement for Nigerian travelers with immediate effect, a development the federal government said led to the ban.
According to the Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Capt. Musa Nuhu, the ban was necessitated by the continued airlift of passengers from Nigeria using the Rapid Antigen Tests (RDT) conducted by laboratories that are “neither approved nor authorized by the appropriate regulatory.”
“This is a violation of paragraph 5 of the NCAA letter with REF: NCAA/DG/AIR11/16/281 of 02 February 2021 addressed to your good self. The paragraph clearly states, “Based on the forgoing 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”, Nuhu said in a letter to the airline.
Following the ban, it was learnt that there has been pressure on the FG by some highly placed Nigerians among them members of the National Assembly who were billed to travel with Emirates flights yesterday and were in utter confusion with the FG’s decision.
The pressure may have paid off as the NCAA issued another letter announcing that the ban has been lifted, hours after the ban was announced.
“We have carefully read your response to our letter NCAA/DG/AIR11/16/285 of 4th February 2021 and arrived at the understanding that the UAE Government has granted approval to Emirates Airlines to withdraw the requirement for Rapid Antigen Testing (RDT) prior to departure of Emirates flights from Nigeria with immediate effect until such a time that the required infrastructure is made available by the Nigerian Government, the letter announcing the lifting of the ban read.
“Based on the foregoing, the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) has directed the immediate lifting of the suspension of Emirates Airlines Operations in Nigeria. It is therefore expected that Emirates Airlines will continue to comply with the directives of the PTF on COVID-19 and other protocols of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“Emirates Airlines will be duly informed of ongoing enforcement actions by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) with regards to the established non-compliance to PTF directives and protocols as enumerated in our letter of 4th February 2021.”