By Chinedu Eze in Lagos and Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
Following an agreement between the United Arabs Emirates (UAE), and the Nigerian government, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has announced plan to lift the ban placed on Emirates Airlines from operating into and out of the country.
According to Sirika, the commencement of the airline’s operations would, however, depend on the commencement of visa issuance to Nigerians by the UAE.
“UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria. Commencement of the Visa issuance is condition precedent. Please bear with this unusual situation,” Sirika said.
The minister said he appreciated the understanding of all those who have been negatively affected by the recent policy decisions, which barred some airlines from operating into the country when Nigeria reopened its airspace to international flights.
The Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, Mr. James Odaudu, explained in a statement issued yesterday that the decisions were taken to protect the interests of the nation and its citizens who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity – the same way Nigeria treats other nationals.
Emirates Airlines was initially given approval to operate into the country, but the approval was withdrawn following the inability of Nigerians to obtain/use valid tourist visas to enter the UAE.
Meanwhile, South Africa has also lifted ban on air travel from travellers from African countries.
President of South Africa, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa said the ban was lifted to facilitate free movements of people, goods and services from South Africa and the African continent, noting that travellers from the neighbouring countries are allowed to visit the country.
“Travellers from all African countries are allowed and must possess relevant travel documents, and will also be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
“To allow ease of travel from the African countries, 18 borders will be opened. 35 border posts will continue to offer restricted services due to insufficient capacity for screening, testing and quarantine. Travellers who present themselves at borders, which are unable to accommodate them will be directed to the currently operational border posts for processing,” the President said in an address.
The President said three airports would be opened and operational for international air travel.
These airports are OR Tambo International (in Johannesburg, Gauteng), Cape Town International (in Cape Town, Western Cape) and King Shaka International in (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal).