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FG bans Emirates Airlines operations over COVID-19 protocols

The Federal Government has banned Emirates Airlines from Nigeria’s airspace over the company’s refusal to abide by the coronavirus protocol released to flatten the virus curve across the country.

It said that the decision to plan a ban Emirates Airlines operations beginning from Wednesday, March 17, within the country was after all efforts to ensure the airline complied with its travel procedure failed to yield any desired result.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the announcement during the weekly briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuaja on Monday.

Sirika, however, stated that the ban on KLM Dutch Airlines operations has been lifted after the company accepted the apex government condition on movements of passengers.

Sirika explained the reason for the ban: “Regarding KLM and Emirates Airlines, at the time that we resumed flights, these two airlines made demands that there will be polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for passengers, 72 hours before flights, and there will also be an antigen test at the airport, and a PCR test on arrival at Dubai.

“This, Nigeria considered country-discriminatory and not acceptable. It is devoid of any scientific reasoning because the virus itself will incubate at least within, or after 72 hours. So, it sounds not correct for you to take a PCR test within 72 hours and take a rapid test before the flight and seven hours later, you take another test. You are likely to show negative.

“The reasons advanced at that time, was that the PCR results were being faked. Well, PCR results are also faked in so many other countries, including the countries in question. . However, PCT struggles to install machine which can verify the authenticity of the PCR test.

“Therefore, we gave the options to the two airlines, you either a PCR test 72 hours before departure and another PCR test on arrival, or, a rapid test before departure and a PCR test on arrival, but not the combination of the three because it does not make scientific sense. It makes the facilitation of passengers very cumbersome and makes our work very difficult while passengers are going through unnecessary hardship. Then they stopped flying.  KLM accepted that position, but Emirates did not.

“So, we have asked Emirates be banned from operations, midnight Wednesday. We have communicated to them. However, like the chairman has said, if they will come back to us to resume like KLM has done, they will be allowed to continue, if not, the status quo remains.  However, KLM has accepted to start instantly, therefore, they are allowed to do so”.

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