Barely 24 hours after slamming a 72-hour ban on Emirates Airlines outbound flights in the county, Federal Government has rescinded the decision, with immediate effect.
A statement issued by the Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Musa Nuhu, informed that the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 was made aware of the requirement by Emirates Airlines, as well as KLM for passengers travelling from Nigeria on its flights to Dubai and Amsterdam to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test (RDT) four hours from the time of flights departure.
This is in addition to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test done 72 hours from the date of departure.
The NCAA added that the implementation of the additional requirement by the two airlines commenced without the prior notification; or approval of the PTF and other regulatory bodies in Nigeria. This led to the provision of RDT testing by organizations and laboratories that have not been approved by the PTF; as well as other regulatory agencies for RDT at the international airports in Lagos and Abuja.
Consequently, the PTF on COVID-19 had directed the NCAA to inform the airlines to either suspend the requirement for pre-departure RDT or their flights to Nigeria pending when the required infrastructure and logistics have been put in place by the government.
However, Emirates Airlines had continued their operations requiring passengers to carry out the RDT test with six hours from the time-of-flight departure from Nigeria.
As a result, the PTF directed the immediate suspension of Emirates Airlines operations to Nigeria effective 4th February 2021.
However, on Friday, Emirates Airlines had informed the NCAA in writing that the UAE Government had given the airline approval to suspend the pre-departure RDT requirement for passengers travelling on their flight to Dubai.
“Consequent upon the foregoing, the PTF directed the NCAA to lift the suspension placed on Emirates Airlines flights into Nigeria effective from 5th February 2021.
“Emirates Airlines no longer requires passengers to carry out pre-departure RDT. No laboratory has been approved by the PTF and other regulatory agencies to carry out RDT for incoming or departing passengers.
“PTF will inform all Nigerians of any change(s) to the above,” the statement read.