Nigeria suspends Emirates airline flights over COVID-19 tests
Nigeria has suspended Emirates airlines flights because the carrier sought to impose an additional COVID-19 test for passengers from Nigeria, the aviation regulator said in a letter seen by Reuters on Friday dated Feb. 4.
An aviation ministry spokesman on Monday told a news conference that the United Arab Emirates, in addition to requiring a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before flying from Nigeria, was adding an extra requirement of having a rapid test four hours before departure.
He said airlines that insisted on the additional test would be suspended until an appropriate structure was put in place to conduct the second test within four hours of departure.
In the letter to the airline’s country manager, dated Feb. 4 and titled “suspension of Emirates airlines operations to Nigeria”, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said the airline had carried passengers from Nigeria using rapid antigen tests “conducted by laboratories that are neither approved nor authorized by the appropriate regulatory bodies”.
The NCAA, in its letter, said the decision to suspend Emirates was taken because the airline failed to heed a request to either accept passengers without the rapid test until the appropriate infrastructure was in place or suspend flights to and from Nigeria until that time.
Emirates did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment outside normal working hours.
This month, United Arab Emirates authorities said the airline’s passengers flying to Dubai from Nigeria would not be permitted entry if they transited via a third country and could only enter on direct flights, according to industry sources and a travel notice on the RwandAir website.