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Diplomatic Row Between the UAE and African Countries Could Force Emirates to Suspend a Slew of Routes

Diplomatic Row Between the UAE and African Countries Could Force Emirates to Suspend a Slew of Routes

Emirates appears to have yet again suspended all flights to Nigeria as a diplomatic row between the West African country and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) intensifies because of an apparent visa ban imposed on Nigerians by the UAE immigration authorities.

Last week, Dubai reportedly slapped a visa ban on visitors from 20 African countries including Nigeria, Ghana and the Republic of Congo. The ban was communicated to trade partners but has not been officially confirmed and there is no official reason for the ban.

There have been reports, however, that the ban has been imposed over frustration about the number of visitors from these countries that overstay their visas. The ban only applies to 30-day visitor visas. The UAE had already tightened visa rules that required reams of documentation from visitors of certain nationalities.

Before the total visa ban was reportedly imposed, the UAE had already barred Nigerians aged 40 and younger from obtaining a visitor visa.

Emirates will operate its last flight to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city on October 28 before definitely suspending services to the country. The airline did not immediately provide an explanation for why it was pulling flights from the country or say when services might restart.

The airline had only restarted daily flights to Lagos on September 11 after pulling out of the country in a dispute over more than US $85 million in revenues that the Dubai-based airline had been barred from removing from Nigeria by the government.

In recent months, Nigeria has blocked international airlines from repatriating $464 million in revenues to their home countries according to estimates from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Nigeria’s central bank eventually released some of the blocked funds, paving the way for Emirates to restart flights.

Emirates has had a rocky relationship with the Nigerian government over the last couple of years, and the airline was forced to suspend services to the country for months at a time during the pandemic.

That dispute started after Emirates wanted to perform rapid COVID-19 tests on Nigerian passengers before allowing them to board flights bound for Dubai. The UAE also temporarily barred Nigerians from entering the country due to COVID rates in Nigeria.

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