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FG lifts Emirates ban, as airline cancels antigen tests

By Wole Oyebade
06 February 2021   |   4:11 am
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has made a U-turn in the suspension of the operations of Emirates flights into Nigeria.

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has made a U-turn in the suspension of the operations of Emirates flights into Nigeria.

The action was in lieu of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) suspension of the controversial antigen tests earlier imposed on Nigerians departing on Emirates Airlines.

The PTF, through the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), about 24 hours ago, suspended the airlines for violating the PTF COVID-19 directives regarding Rapid Antigen Testing (RDT) for departing passengers.

NCAA sent a letter to the Emirates airlines’ Country Manager, stating reversal of earlier decision with the action taken by the UAE government.

The lifting of the suspension is the immediate response of the UAE government granting approval to Emirates airlines to withdraw the requirements for RDT, prior to departure of Emirates flights from Nigeria with immediate effects until the required infrastructure and logistics are put in place by the Federal Government.

The Director General of NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, said the apex regulatory body hopes that the airline would continue to comply with the directives of the PTF on COVID-19 and other protocols of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

According to him, the airline would be informed of ongoing enforcement actions by the NCAA with regards to the establishment non-compliance to PTF directives and protocols, as enumerated in the letter sent to the airline on the February 4, this year.

As at yesterday, Emirates airlines no longer required passengers to carry out pre-departure RDT and no laboratory has been approved by the PTF and other regulatory agencies to carry out RDT for incoming or departing passengers. The PTF pledged to inform all Nigerians of any changes.

In response to the ongoing development, Emirates, in a statement, confirmed that it would continue to operate services to Abuja and Lagos, adding: “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.”

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