Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika has explained why the country is yet to resume flights to United Arab Emirates.
Speaking during the briefing by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Hadi Sirika said Emirates and other airlines gave the federal government conditions that were not acceptable.
According to the Minister, Dubai authorities insisted that all passengers intending to visit the country must use Emirates airline or spend two weeks in the alternative carrier’s country before entering Dubai. He stated that the protocol appeared to be targeted at only Nigerians and was not backed up by scientific reasons.
Talks are reportedly ongoing to resolve the issue. Sirika said;
“Emirates in particular and other airlines, including KLM, gave us some conditions that were not acceptable to us because they don’t make scientific sense.
“After a review, some of the airlines, especially KLM, saw sense with what Nigeria presented, which is that you can do the test 48 to 72 hours before you leave and do another test on arrival.
“Emirates, at that time, wanted us to do the test 48 hours before boarding and 48 hours is not yet the incubation time. And they expect us to do a rapid test at the airport and then fly seven hours later and still do another test in Dubai and then follow us to our hotel or our accommodation and do another test.
“That dragged. In the interest of our people and cordial relationship, even though it is a commercial decision for the airline to take at any point in time, we ceded and accepted that we would do those tests that don’t make scientific sense to us at the expense of our people and our money.
“We accepted what Emirates presented and proceeded, even though KLM and other airlines saw our reasons and rationale and toed the lines of Nigeria.
“In this case, Emirates insisted again that in addition to the test on arrival and other tests, that Nigerians cannot fly to UAE except through Emirates airlines and that if we choose to do so through other airlines, like Ethiopia, Qatar, Turkish or other airlines, we must remain in the country of that airline for two weeks, if we are a Nigerian, before we continue to Dubai.”
“Meaning that if I buy my ticket in a free market, which Nigeria and UAE practice, if I buy a ticket on Ethiopian Airline, that means I must remain in Addis Ababa for two weeks, whether I have a visa or not, before I proceed to Dubai.
“So, they insisted that we must fly by Emirates, and majority of Nigerians are petty traders and the ticket of Emirates in this case may be higher than other airlines’.”