By Sade Williams
- Fear of potential huge revenue losses
Few hours after it suspended flight operations into Nigeria by Emirates Airline, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has lifted the suspension.
The lifting of the suspension follows the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) approval granted Emirates Airline to withdraw the requirements of Rapid Antigen Testing (RDT) prior to departure of Emirates’ flights from Nigeria, with immediate effect.
Analysts familiar with aviation buses say the about face by the Emirates and the authorities in UAE may not be unconnected with fear of potential revenue losses following Nigeria’s decision to tacitly reciprocate what is now seen as Covid-politics in flight restrictions by countries.
Nigeria remains a lucrative market for many international airlines with Nigerians ever looking for opportunities for air travels for business, tourism or to just emigrate from the country.
But the information on the lifting of the suspension was contained in a letter signed by the Director General of the NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu on February 5, 2021, conveying the lifting of the ban as directed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
In the letter titled: “Re: Rapid Antigen COVID-19 Testing for Emirates Passengers”, the NCAA acknowledged the letter written by Emirates on the withdrawal of the Rapid Testing, saying it expects Emirates to continue to comply with the laid down protocols.
“We have carefully read your response to our letter NCAA/DG/AIR11/16/285 of 4 February, 2021 and arrived at the understanding that the UAE government has granted approval to Emirates airline to withdraw the requirement for Rapid Antigen Testing prior to departure of Emirates airline from Nigeria with immediate effect until such a time that the required infrastructure is made available.
“Based on the foregoing, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) has directed immediate lifting of suspension of Emirates airline operations in Nigeria. It is therefore expected that Emirates will continue to comply with the directives of the PTF on COVID-19 and other protocols.
“Emirates airline will be duly informed of ongoing enforcements actions by the NCAA with regards to the establishment of non-compliances to PTF directives and protocols as enumerated in our letter of 4 February, 2021”, the NCASA said.
Meanwhile, an Emirates spokesperson in Lagos had said, ‘Emirates can confirm that we will continue to operate services to Abuja and Lagos. We are strongly committed to Nigeria, and would like to thank the local authorities for their trust and support. We look forward to continuing to safely connect our customers, and meet air travel demand from Nigeria to and through Dubai to Emirates’ global network.