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UAE lifts ban on Nigerian, Congolese passengers traveling to Dubai

United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reversed the ban earlier placed on foreign airlines from accepting passengers from Nigeria and Congo which took effect on Monday, December 13.

Citing the increasing number of COVID-19 positive cases, foreign airlines flying into Dubai had ceased accepting passengers from Nigeria and Congo.

Though no foreign airline gave any official statement on the reason for the development or if initial directive came from the UAE government as a retaliatory measure against Nigeria for withdrawing the frequencies given to Emirates airline, an email seen by Daily Sun, which emanated from Ethiopian Airline on Monday, December 13, with subject: Dubai Travel Restriction Update with reference No. PSA12/068/2021, read: “Due to an increasing number of COVID positive passengers at destination, it is decided to suspend accepting passengers to UAE from Nigeria and Congo DRC only. This is effective December 13, 2021. Please ensure 100 per cent compliance.”

A reliable source within Ethiopian Airline confirmed to Daily Sun that passengers from Nigeria that had booked tickets to travel to Dubai on December 13 and had boarded the plane were offloaded.

“The excuse from Dubai was that they had gotten 37 positive COVID cases, so they had to take measures to restrict movement. But not long after the directive to bar passengers was issued, they reversed themselves and are now accepting passengers from Nigeria,” the source said.  There are reasons to believe that the diplomatic row between the government of Nigeria and the UAE over allocation of frequencies for Emirates Airline and Nigeria’s Air Peace was responsible for the initial decision to bar passengers from Nigeria. For over eight months, the government of Nigeria and UAE have been engulfed in a tit-for-tat over COVID-19 regulations and the most recently was the allocation of frequencies and slots to Emirates and Air Peace.

After Nigeria lifted COVID-19 restrictions, the UAE imposed very strict travel guidelines which was in contrast with the FG’s guidelines. The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika then imposed restrictions on Emirates airline from flying into Nigeria.

After eight months, the restrictions were lifted and Air Peace resumed flying to Sharjah, while Emirates resumed flying in and out of Nigeria. But last week, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) withdrew the approval granted Emirates Airlines by the Ministry of Aviation following the refusal of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE to grant equal rights to Air Peace fly to Dubai via Sharjah.The withdrawal of approval took effect on December 12, 2021.

The UAE’s Minister of Economy, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, who is also the head of the country’s GCAA, wrote a letter to Sirika, protesting the withdrawal of Emirate’s frequencies, while insisting that Air Peace has been treated fairly.

But Sirika, in a leaked audio, described the letter as ‘insulting’ and said that at the inception of this administration, the FG granted Emirates Airlines the approval for 21 flights weekly, 14 to Lagos and seven to Abuja but the UAE refused to grant Nigeria’s Air Peace three weekly frequencies to Sharjah, which the airline requested for, rather, it approved only one frequency weekly.

Copyright Daily Sun

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