NCAA suspends Emirates Airlines for violating COVID-19 protocols

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has suspended the operations of Dubai-based Emirates airlines into Nigeria.

The suspension order is coming following the recent ban of airlines from carrying Nigerian passengers into the United Arab Emirates’ country.

According to a circular which emanated from the Dubai Airport Operations Control Center, titled ‘Dubai Travel Protocol Update-Travel From Nigeria’ and dated, Friday, January 2021, the Dubai authorities had declared: that from 1 February 2021 that all passengers departing from Nigeria to Dubai are required to obtain a negative Coronavirus (COVID-19) certificate. The PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.

According to the new policy, all Nigerian passengers are required to conduct a rapid COVID-19 test and obtain a negative result within four hours of their departure time even while the Dubai government insisted that passengers from Nigeria must travel directly from Nigeria to Dubai while adding that; “No passengers may enter Dubai from any other country /station if they have visited or transited via Nigeria in the last 14 days.”

In its reaction through a circular which emanated from the NCAA today, addressed to the country manager of Emirates Airlines in Nigeria and dated 4 February 2021 titled: “Suspension of Emirates Airlines Operations to Nigeria’, the NCAA declared: “It has been brought to the attention of the Presidential Taskforce of COVID-19; PTF) that Emirates Airlines has continued to airlift passengers from Nigeria using Rapid Antigen Tests (RTD) conducted by laboratories that are neither approved nor authorized by appropriate regulatory bodies.

This is a violation of paragraph 5 of the NCAA letter with Re: NCAA/DG/AIR11/16/281 of 2 February 2021 addressed to your good self. The paragraphs clearly state: Based on the foregoing and to enable the Nigerian government to put in place the needed infrastructure and logistics for COVID-19 RTD testing for departing passengers, the PTF has directed that Emirates airlines should either accept passengers without RTD pending when the infrastructure and logistics are put in place or suspend its flights to and from Nigeria until such a time when the required infrastructure and logistics are fully implemented”.

According to the circular issued and signed by the NCAA Director General Captain Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, Emirates Airlines has not been in compliance with the two options given by the PTFas records obtained from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (BAMA) indicated that Emirates Airlines operated the following flights from both the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos dated 3 February 2021 with flight UAE784 with aircraft type B777-300 marked A6EEQA and another flight on 4 February 2021, with aircraft type B777-300, flight UAE 784 and marked A6EQC.

The airline in violation of the agreement also operated two flights through the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, dated 3 February 2021 with flight UAE786 and flight: UAE786 with aircraft type B777W marked A6ECV respectively.

“This is in addition to an advert by Emirates Airlines (attached) for PTF to conduct RTD that is not approved by the appropriate regulatory bodies and PTF to conduct RTD for departing passengers.

PRF tajes these violations of its instructions seriously and had directed as follows: Emirates should suspend its operations to Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja)effective 72 hours from midnight (2300Z) on Thursday, 4 February 2021.

During the 72 hour leeway, Emirates is only authorized to bring passengers into Nigeria. Outbound passengers are not authorized, NCAA will impose additional sanctions on Emirates for the violations of the OTF directive and COVID-19 protocols. Emirates will be informed in due time as to when to resume operations to Nigeria.”

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