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UAE imposes fresh ban on Lagos, Abuja flights

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[files] This picture taken from the sea of Dubai on March 3, 2021 shows the skyline of the Gulf emirate with Burj Khalifa in the centre. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)

About 48 hours to the resumption of flight operations into Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday, imposed a fresh ban on Nigerian travellers and flights to and fro the country.

The ban, which took effect June 21, will continue until further notice.

The UAE’s national carrier was as of last week, billed to return to Nigeria after a “temporary” withdrawal following the fall-out with the Nigerian authority about three months ago over multiple COVID-19 tests regime.

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The airline in a new travel advisory said, customers travelling to and from Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted for travel, and those who have been to – or connected through – Nigeria in the last 14 days, are not permitted to board from any other point to the UAE.

“We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking,” said the airline. “Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow.”

Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management earlier allowed the safe resumption of passenger travel from South Africa, Nigeria and India to Dubai.

Besides the ban on Nigeria, Emirates also said that flights from South Africa will remain suspended until July 6, in line with government directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from South Africa, into the UAE.

Daily passenger flights to Johannesburg will operate as EK763, but outbound passenger services on EK 764 remain suspended. Customers who have been to or connected through South Africa in the last 14 days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai.

The suspension of Emirates Airlines and Etihad’s withdrawal from Nigerian airspace did cost the country at least a 20 per cent decline in international passenger traffic.

The Guardian had reported that the decline was a major setback for air travel’s gradual recovery that earlier climbed to 45 per cent of pre-COVID-19 traffic.

Chairman of the Airline Passenger Joint Committee (APJC), Bankole Bernard, said the continued absence of UAE airlines was unfortunate, with a significant impact on passenger traffic.

Bernard, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Finchglow Travels, said the market’s erstwhile recovery of 45 per cent had as of March slumped to 15 per cent following the withdrawal.

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