Emirates faced a ban on flying passengers out of Nigeria for at least 72-hours because the airline had been planning to use rapid COVID-19 tests on customers before they were allowed to board flights to Dubai. The new rapid testing requirement is believed to have been added to address concerns that some passengers were presenting fraudulent PCR certificates to get around existing pre-flight testing rules.
Passengers travelling from Lagos and Abuja to Dubai are already required to take a COVID-19 test within 72-hours of departure and a second on arrival in Dubai. Only labs approved by the Dubai authorities should be used because of fears that some testing centres weren’t providing accurate results.
Earlier this week, Emirates told passengers planning to travel from Nigeria that they would also have to take a third rapid test within four hours of departure. The antigen tests are slightly less accurate than a PCR test but they can return results in just 15-minutes.
Nigerian officials, however, slapped Emirates with a 72-hour travel ban over the proposal because the testing partner the airline has given the contract to is not approved by the government.
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA explained in a statement that it had asked Emirates not to press ahead with its pre-flight rapid testing requirement until the test provider had been approved by the government. The NCAA claims Emirates “failed to heed” its request.
The (NCAA) had been threatening further sanctions against Emirates but decided to lift the travel ban on Friday evening after the airline agreed to comply with its requests. If the ban had continued, Emirates would have been allowed to fly passengers to Nigeria but not from the country.
Authorities in Dubai have already banned Nigerian passport holders from trying to circumvent current testing rules by travelling to the emirate through a third country with less stringent rules.
Photo Credit: Karol Ciesluk / Shutterstock.com
Article updated to reflect the fact that the NCAA has now lifted the travel ban after reaching an agreement with Emirates over the rapid pre-flight testing rules.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.