British Airways will continue to operate flights to the Nigerian capital Abuja amidst an extreme terror threat warning but aircrew, including pilots and cabin crew will no longer stay overnight in the city because the threat to their safety is so severe.
The airline pulled flights to Abuja at the last minute on Friday and Saturday following urgent terror threat warnings from the US State Department and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office earlier this week.
On Thursday, the State Department ordered the evacuation of family members of U.S. government employees from Abuja due to what it described as the “heightened risk of terrorist attacks” in the city.
Non-essential government employees and their families had already been evacuated as a Level 4 ‘Do Not Travel’ warning was placed on Abuja, as well as several other regions. The rest of Nigeria, including Lagos, is subject to a Level 3 ‘Reconsider Travel’ advisory.
The State Department warned that transportation hubs, such as bus stations or airports, were a potential target for terrorists.
Britain’s FCDO is advising its citizens to avoid all but essential travel to Abuja due to the heightened risk of a terrorist attack. “You should stay alert, avoid non-essential travel within the city and follow the local news and the advice of security authorities,” the British government said.
Terrorist groups must likely to carry out an attack include Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa, the FCDO claimed.
British Airways is expected to operate its daily service to Abuja on Sunday but the aircrew will not get off the aircraft in Nigeria, and the plane will immediately return to London.
In order to comply with air safety rules, there is likely to be two sets of crew onboard the plane – one to work the flight out to Abuja and a second to work the return flight to London.
Other European airlines, including Lufthansa and Air France, are continuing to serve Abuja from their respective hubs, but flights continue onwards from Abuja and aircrew are not staying in high-risk locations.
Both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines serve Nigeria with direct flights from the U.S. to Lagos, but neither airline flies to Abuja.
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.