COVID-19: Nigeria to ban flights from UAE, The Netherlands

The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has threatened ban flights from the UAE and The Netherlands as a reciprocal action.

The taskforce said the Ministry of Aviation and its relevant agencies have been mandated take the necessary reciprocal measures as may be permissible under the laws and other international obligations expected be discharged against Emirates airlines operating from the UAE and other airlines from Yhe Netherlands.

Mr Boss Mustapha, the Chairman of PTF and Secretary the Government of the Federation, disclosed this at the routine briefing of the committee in Abuja on Monday.

Mustapha said: “For a month, Nigeria has been engaged with the authorities of the UAE and  The Netherlands pre-departure testing requirements passengers should meet before travelling from Nigeria.

According to him, the PTF has mandated the Ministry of Aviation and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, to take necessary reciprocal measures as may be permissible under the laws and other international obligations which we are expected to discharge.

The News of Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in February 2021, the Nigeria government did ban Emirates temporarily because the airline violated guidelines issued the COVID-19 PTF.

The airline accepted passengers for boarding that had rapid antigen COVID test issued laboratories not list of ones approved the authorities.

UAE and The Netherlands face the ban on flying passengers out of Nigeria again because the airline had been using rapid COVID-19 tests on customers before they were allowed to board flights to Dubai.

The new rapid testing requirement is believed to have been added to address concerns that some passengers were presenting fraudulent PCR to get around existing pre-flight testing rules.

Passengers travelling from Lagos and Abuja to Dubai are already required to take a COVID-19 test within 72-hours of departure and a second on arrival in Dubai.

Only laboratories approved by the Dubai authorities should be used because of fears that some testing centres weren’t providing accurate results.

NAN recalls NCAA had explained statement that it had asked Emirates not to press ahead with its pre-flight rapid testing requirement until the test provider had been approved by the government.

The NCAA claims Emirates had “failed to heed” its request. (NAN)