National carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Dubai-based airline, Emirates has extended the suspension on flights to and from Nigeria until Wednesday, July 21, 2021.
Also affected in the extension of the flights suspension is South Africa.
1st News reports that Emirates made this known via a statement on its website. The statement, published on Monday, revealed that the extension of the flights embargo on Nigeria is in line with directives of the UAE government restricting the entry of travellers originating from Nigeria and SA into their territory.
“Only one daily passenger flight to Johannesburg will operate as EK763. However, outbound passenger services on EK764 remain suspended.
‘‘Customers who have been to or connected through South Africa or Nigeria in the last 14 days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai,” the statement added.
Earlier on Monday, Emirates had equally extended the suspension on inbound passenger flights from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the UAE until at least July 21.
1st News reports that the face-off between the Nigerian government and its UAE counterpart has strained relations; in addition to contributing to reciprocal flights embargoes.
Emirates on Monday, June 21, had previously announced the indefinite suspension of passenger flights to and from Nigeria. The announcement came 48 hours after restrictions on direct flights between Nigeria and the UAE was lifted; specifically after a long-standing disagreement between both countries.
The dispute was over the use of rapid COVID-19 tests.
There had been no explanation for the sudden reversal; which puts a question mark on the bilateral relationship between both countries.
However, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had accused the UAE of discriminatory flight protocols targeting Nigerians; a charge which the UAE government had denied.
Sirika disclosed that Emirates in particular, gave some conditions that were not acceptable to Nigeria; even as he stated that the conditions don’t
“Emirates at that time wanted us to do the test 48 hours before boarding and 48 hours is not yet the incubation time. They expect us to do a rapid test at the airport and then fly seven hours later and do another test in Dubai and then follow us to our hotel or our accommodation and do another test.
“That dragged on and in the interest of our people and cordial relationship; even though it is a commercial decision for the airline to take at any point in time; we ceded and accepted that we would do those tests that doesn’t make scientific sense to us at the expense of our people and our monies,’’ the Minister had stated.
“We accepted what Emirates presented and proceeded; even though KLM and other airlines saw our reasons and rationale and towed the lines of Nigeria.
“In this case, Emirates insisted again that in addition to the test on arrival and other tests; that Nigerians cannot fly to UAE except through Emirates airline. And that if we choose to do so through other airlines like Ethiopia, Qatar, Turkish or other airlines; we must remain in the country of that airline for two weeks if we are Nigerians before we continue to Dubai.
“Meaning that if I buy my ticket in a free market which Nigeria and UAE practices; if I buy a ticket on Ethiopian Airline, that means I must remain in Addis Ababa for two weeks; whether I have a visa or not before I proceed to Dubai.
“So, they insisted that we must fly by Emirates…Majority of Nigerians are petty traders and the ticket of Emirates in this case may be higher than other airlines,” Sirika explained.