The Dubai-based carrier sees restrictions lifted by the Nigerian government, allowing it to resume flights to the country.
At this point in time, we’re used to hearing about travel restrictions owing to the threat posed by the Covid pandemic. With countries like the US and many in Europe slowly trying to re-open their international borders, airlines are starting to regain a sense of ‘business as usual’ for their international routes. Emirates is no exception, with a ban imposed by Nigeria back in March set to be lifted by the 5th of December, seeing flights to Lagos and Abuja being allowed to resume. This ban, however, wasn’t down to something as common as a Covid fear – it was owing to the apparent discriminatory nature of the airline’s Covid testing regime. So, what was the issue? Well, firstly, Emirates was accepting test results required for passengers travelling with the airline from test centres that did not appear on Nigeria’s ‘approved’ list. On top of this, Emirates also required passengers departing from Nigeria and heading to their hub at Dubai International Airport to have not one, but three Covid tests within 24 hours of travel. These would have included the standard pre-flight PCR test, a rapid antigen test at the airport, as well as another PCR test at the arrival airport. For some people, these tests would have incurred enormous costs, especially earlier on in the pandemic. The country’s aviation minister, Hadi Sirika, called the requirements ‘nonsensical,’ with the Nigerian government only requiring passengers to obtain a single negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure (just like everywhere else). When you consider that Emirates only required this heightened level of testing for passengers from Nigeria, you can see the Nigerian government’s point.
Now, 9 months later, Emirates and Nigeria finally seem to be thawing out from their temporary frosty relationship. Passengers from the country to Emirates’ Dubai hub are now subject to the same 72-hour PCR test requirements that all other passengers have to accept. It should also be noted, however, that passengers arriving at their Dubai hub will still need another PCR test on arrival at the airport, but the airline now provides these for free. Arrivals are then required to quarantine until a negative result is obtained. Off the back of this news, Siriki announced how “This subsequent lifting of the ban is a product of lengthy negotiations,” demonstrating the successful communications between the airline and the country.