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U.S. Citizens stranded in Lagos over flight permit denial

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Scores of Americans scheduled for evacuation from Nigeria were yesterday stranded at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, over a failed bid to secure approval of the local regulatory authority.

The travellers, in their numbers, were seen waiting for over three hours after check-in and later returned to the arrival section of the airport to reclaim baggage as they returned back to their hotels.

The Guardian learnt that the chartered flight, by Omni Air International, was cancelled due to the inability of the airline to get operating permit from the authorities.

The Federal Government had lately restricted all local and international flights as part of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Only essential flights, which include cargo services, emergency landing and evacuation, among others, were allowed though subject to the approval of the Minister of Aviation.

It was not clear why the permit was denied though evacuation had been ongoing since the restriction order.

A total of 637 French and German citizens were evacuated from Nigeria last Thursday through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, by their governments.

Air France’s A330 airplane, which was the first to land, departed at 13.56hr while Lufthansa German Airline departed with her nationals at 15.46hr. Before their departure, the Germans underwent airport security formalities and screening for COVID-19 as they awaited the Lufthansa flight which landed few hours after for the evacuation under ‘emergency’ and ‘humanitarian’ flight operations.


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