Despite FG’s Lifting of Ban, Emirates Cancels Flights from Nigeria


Chinedu Eze

Emirates Airlines has cancelled its Lagos-Dubai and Abuja-Dubai flights despite reaching agreement with the federal government that it would waive the introduction of Rapid Antigen Test (RDT), which the airline earlier insisted that Nigerian passengers must undergo four hours before their flight.

The Nigerian government had on Thursday suspended the airline’s outbound flights from Lagos and Abuja until it was able to provide the needed infrastructure for the conduct of RDT test.

But on Friday, Emirates indicated that it would waive the test, prompting the federal government to lift the ban.

However, Emirates had cancelled its Saturday and Sunday outbound flights from Nigeria and did not indicate when it would resume the flights.

The airline’s media contact in Nigeria said the airline would issue a statement today to explain what actually happened.

However, there were strong indications that the United Arab Emirates government may not have approved the waiver for Nigerian passengers to come to Dubai with the RDT test.

UAE has maintained that in addition to the 72 hours PCR test approved by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 for Nigerians travelling out of the country, Emirates passengers must undergo rapid test before they would be allowed in Dubai.

This was due to the allegation that Nigerians travelling out of the country procure fake test results.

On Saturday, the airline announced the cancellation of the two flights (Lagos-Dubai, EK784 and Abuja-Dubai, Ek786) through a memo to its trade partners, citing operational reasons.

Similarly yesterday, the flights were similarly cancelled, according to the message sent to the trade partners.

The mail stated: “We wish to inform you that due to operational reasons, our flights LOS-DXB (EK784) and ABV-DXB (EK786) from Sunday 07th February, 2021 have been cancelled till further notice.

“DXB-LOS (EK783) and DXB-ABV (EK785) will however operate to bring incoming passengers on February 7, 2021.

“For passengers affected kindly apply re-booking options provided in our COVID-19 waiver policy previously communicated.

“We hope to revert to you as soon as possible, regarding the status of our future flights.

“As always, we thank you for your continued support. If you require any further assistance please contact us.”

The airline has decided to follow the directive earlier given them by the federal government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), to only bring passengers back to Nigeria, until government is able to provide the facilities for RDT test.