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Dubai flight operations resume after FG, UAE resolve diplomatic row

By News Desk

Flight operations have resumed on Nigeria- United Arab Emirate (UAE) route after governments of both countries agreed to lift the suspension placed on movements of passengers from their countries, a row centred on Coronavirus protocol for passengers.

While the Federal Government lifted the suspension placed on Emirates Airline in Nigeria, the UAE government also removed all travel restrictions on Nigerians, ending an eight months face-off.

The resumption of airlifting of passengers and cargo between both countries on Saturday came barely 24 hours after the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced that they have accepted sheath their swords and benefit from their comparative advantages.

Sirika explained that the decision was reached after the central government negotiations with the UAE, Emirates Airlines’ home country, which resulted in the suspension of all barriers.

The FG had previously banned Emirates from flying into Nigeria over discriminatory policies on Nigerians as regards to COVID-19 protocols by the UAE. He however disclosed that the lifting of the ban was without conditions.

“Today we received communication from UAE removing some of the conditions of travel of which we had concerns about. Having done so, we feel we should lift the ban on the suspension of Emirates Airlines.

“From today (Friday), all the impediments on Emirates have been lifted and that the airline can now operate in Nigeria,” the minister added.

Sirika expressed his appreciation for the understanding shown by Nigerians despite the obvious hardships experienced because of the spat between the two countries.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, who was also at the briefing where the announcement was made, noted that the Nigerian Government recognises that the United Arab Emirates has a responsibility to protect the lives of her citizens thus whatever measures that they had taken was for the interest of her citizens.

He said the negotiation that led to the renewed relationship was a balanced one and that it was a win-win for both countries.

There had been a diplomatic row between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, UAE, following disagreements between both countries.

The Federal Government of Nigeria earlier stopped the UAE national carrier, Emirates Airline from subjecting Nigerian travellers to additional rapid antigen tests as against its stipulated negative PCR test at the Lagos and Abuja airports before departure.

Emirates airline then shut down flights to and from Nigeria owing to the disagreement between the airline and the aviation authorities on the propriety of subjecting passengers travelling from Nigeria to emergency COVID-19 protocols.

After an interface between the authorities of the Aviation Ministry and Emirates airline, flights resumed but Emirates airline continued to conduct tests for passengers before departure from Nigeria, a development the Federal Government frowned on and thus suspended the airline from flying to and from Nigeria.

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