Emirates has found itself banned from flying to and from flying to Nigeria because it was demanding passengers flying from Lagos and Abuja to Dubai take three separate COVID-19 tests. Nigeria had previously threatened to ban Emirates over the proposals and imposed a temporary ban on the airline last month.
The Dubai-based airline has required passengers to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72-hours of departure since last July and passengers from certain high-risk countries are also required to take a second PCR test once they’ve landed in Dubai and before being allowed to leave the airport.
Health officials in Dubai have, however, proposed a third rapid antigen test taken at the departure airport in Nigeria just before passengers are allowed to board their flight to Dubai. It’s believed the idea was proposed because of the unusually high positivity rate of post-arrival tests in passengers from certain countries.
Nigerian officials objected to the plan and initially claimed it couldn’t go ahead because the test provider that Emirates wanted to use in Lagos and Abuja hadn’t been approved by the government. Nigeria dropped plans to ban the airline after Emirates agreed not to test passengers at the point of departure.
In response, the United Arab Emirates banned passenger flights from Nigeria but allowed Emirates to continue operating one-way passengers services to Nigeria. Anyone who has spent time in Nigeria has also been banned from trying to circumvent the rules by flying to Dubai via a third country.
Nigeria’s aviation minister Hadi Sirika, however, insists that the country will not accept its citizens taking three separate tests to get on a plane. “To make us go through three tests within 24 hours does not make sense. Since they insist, their operations remain suspended,” he told a news conference on Monday.
Emirates was forced to pull the plug late last week but the official reason only came to light yesterday.
Dutch airline KLM has recently restarted flights to and from Nigeria after it amended its pre-departure testing rules. Passengers can now choose to have a PCR test within 24-hours of departure or a PCR test within 72-hours of departure and a rapid antigen test within 24-hours.
Previously, the Dutch government wanted travellers to take a PCR test and then the rapid antigen test within four hours of departure. The requirement to take a third test after arrival has also been waived unless passengers want to skip home quarantine by taking a test on day five of isolation.
Photo Credit: Karol Ciesluk / Shutterstock.com
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.