Dubai-based Emirates airline said its flights to and from Nigeria will remain suspended until coming Friday, August 20. There is no certainty that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Nigeria’s frosty relationship over the modalities for COVID-19 tests will be resolved by then. The resumption of flights is not in the hands of Emirates Airlines but the UAE government. Emirates flights to Nigeria remain suspended for another week.
Customers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last fourteen days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai, said Emirates on its website. “Affected flight bookings have been canceled. (…) If your flight has been canceled or impacted by route suspensions due to COVID?19 restrictions, you don’t need to call us immediately for rebooking – you can simply hold on to your Emirates ticket and when flights resume, get in touch with your booking office or us to make new travel plans,” said the airline.
Flights were expected to resume last weekend after UAE said residents from Nigeria, Uganda, and a few other countries could re-enter, provided they met certain conditions. Emirates said its contact centers were “experiencing a greater volume of calls than anticipated.”
What started as a child’s play on February 1, later snowballed into a major diplomatic spat between both nations when the UAE shut transit flights from Nigeria to Dubai. The country followed that up by banning direct flights originating from. The UAE had accused Nigeria of lax COVID-19 tests and the procurement of fake COVID-19 certificates which had led to a spike in coronavirus cases in the UAE; the reason for the introduction of Rapid Antigen Testing (RDT) on intending travelers from Nigeria to Dubai. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in retaliation suspended Emirates from operating to Nigeria for taking an action that did not sit well with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and consequently suspended the carrier.
The carrier made a U-turn in June when within 48 hours of lifting travel suspension on Nigeria, South Africa and India re-imposed travel ban on the West African cities of Lagos and Abuja with effect from June 21. The re-imposition of the ban elicited shock among teeming Nigerian travelers. The UAE did not explain what influenced its decision to make a U-turn to re-impose a ban on the country after it lifted the ban that would have reinstated air travel between the two nations.
Emirates ramps up Africa capacity
Meanwhile, Dubai’s flagship carrier is ramping up flights to other destinations in Africa. The carrier has increased flights to Johannesburg from daily to eleven weekly flights, with the addition of four linked flights with Durban; the airline also flies to and from Cape Town with three weekly services. It has also reinstated capacity on its flights to and from Lusaka (linked with Harare) and Entebbe with five weekly flights each.