Posted by Sade Williams
Few hours after it suspended the operations of Emirates airline into Nigeria, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has lifted the suspension.
This is after the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) granted the approval to Emirates airline to withdraw the requirements for Rapid Antigen Testing (RDT) prior to departure of Emirates flights from Nigeria, with immediate effect.
The information was contained in a letter signed by the Director General of the NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu on February 5, 2021, conveying the lifting of ban as directed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
In the letter titled: Re: ‘Rapid Antigen COVID-19 Testing for Emirates Passengers’, the NCAA acknowledged the letter written by Emirates on the withdrawal of the Rapid Testing, saying it expects Emirates to continue to comply with the laid down protocols.
“We have carefully read your response to our letter NCAA/DG/AIR11/16/285 of 4 February, 2021 and arrived at the understanding that the UAE government has granted approval Emirates airline to withdraw the requirement for Rapid Antigen Testing prior to departure of Emirates airline from Nigeria with immediate effect until such a time that the required infrastructure is made available.
“Based on the foregoing, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) has directed immediate lifting of suspension of Emirates airline operations in Nigeria. It is therefore expected that Emirates will continue to comply with the directives of the PTF on COVID-19 and other protocols.
“Emirates airline will be duly informed of ongoing enforcements actions by the NCAA with regards to the establishment of non-compliances to PTF directives and protocols as enumerated in our letter of 4 February, 2021”, the NCASA said.
Meanwhile, an Emirates spokesperson in Lagos had said , ‘Emirates can confirm that we will continue to operate services to Abuja and Lagos. We are strongly committed to Nigeria, and would like to thank the local authorities for their trust and support. We look forward to continuing to safely connect our customers, and meet air travel demand from Nigeria to and through Dubai to Emirates’ global network.
Also in a statement signed by the Sam Adurogboye, spokesperson for NCAA, the Authority stated that the Presidential Task Force (PTF) of COVID19 was made aware of the requirement by Emirates airlines and KLM for passengers travelling from Nigeria on their flights to Dubai and Amsterdam to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test (RDT) Four hours from the time of flights departure, in addition to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test done 72 hours from the date of departure by passengers.
“The implementation of the additional requirement by the two airlines was commenced without the prior notification or approval of the PTF and other regulatory bodies in Nigeria. This led to the provision of RDT testing by organizations and Laboratories that have not been approved by the PTF and other Regulatory agencies for RDTat or around our international airports in Lagos and Abuja.
“The PTF upon review of the situation directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to inform the airlines to either suspend the requirement for pre-departure RDT or their flights to the country until such a time when the required infrastructure and logistics have been put in place for RDT by the Government.
|”Emirates Airlines however continued their operations requiring passengers to carry out the RDT test Six hours from the time-of-flight departure from Nigeria. The PTF therefore directed for the immediate suspension of Emirates Airlines operations to Nigeria effective 4th February 2021 until when the needed infrastructure and logistics are put in place for the RDT test by the Nigerian Government.
The statement added that Emirates Airlines on 5 February, 2021 informed the NCAA in writing that the UAE Government has given the airline approval to suspend the pre-departure RDT requirement for passengers travelling on their flight to Dubai.
“Consequent upon the foregoing, the PTF directed the NCAA to lift the suspension placed on Emirates Airlines flights into Nigeria with effective from 5th February 2021. The Public is hereby informed as follows:
Emirates Airlines no longer requires passengers to carry out pre-departure RDT.
No laboratory has been approved by the PTF and other regulatory agencies to carry out RDT for incoming or departing passengers.
The PTF will inform all Nigerians of any change(s) to the above”, the NCAA added.