By G9ija

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has extended suspension of flights from Nigeria till March 10, as against February 28 earlier scheduled, it has been revealed.

A statement from Emirates, the UAE-owned airline, explains that passenger services from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) to Dubai are temporarily suspended till March 10, 2021, and customers from Abuja and Lagos will not be accepted for travel prior to or including this date.

“In line with government directives, passenger services from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) to Dubai are temporarily suspended until March 10, 2021. Customers from both Abuja and Lagos will not be accepted for travel prior to or including this date. Passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not allowed entry into the UAE (whether terminating in or connecting through Dubai). Emirates flights from Dubai to Lagos and Abuja will continue to operate as per the normal schedule. We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking.

Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services to Dubai for our customers when conditions allow,” the airline say.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) recently announced the suspension of Emirates operations from Lagos and Abuja over the airline’s violation of COVID-19 protocols.

It accused the airline of airlifting passengers from Nigeria using Rapid Antigen Test (RDT) conducted by laboratories that are neither approved nor authorised by the appropriate regulatory bodies in Nigeria.

The Presidential Task Force had also directed that Emirates airlines should either accept passengers without RDT pending when the infrastructure and the logistics are put in place or suspends its flights to and from Nigeria until such a time when the required infrastructure and logistics are fully established and implemented. But shortly after announcing the suspension, the United Arabs Emirates asked Emirates to suspend the RDT testing in Nigeria, prompting the NCAA to lift the suspension.

The diplomatic row continued after Nigeria’s largest airline, Air Peace,  revealed that the UAE has stopped the airlifting of passengers from Nigeria to UAE as part of its COVID-19 measures but said that the airline could airlift passengers from the UAE back to Nigeria.

In a notification to passengers, the airline said: “The management of Air Peace wishes to notify the flying public that the UAE government has stopped the airlifting of Nigerians from Nigeria to UAE as part of its COVID-19 measures.

“However, flights bringing Nigerians back from UAE are not affected. To this end, Air Peace flight from UAE (Sharjah-Dubai) to Lagos is not affected. Normal flights shall resume when the restriction is lifted.”

The reporters reached out to the spokesman of the NCAA, Sam Adurogboye, steps to resolve the issue, but till date, there has been no official response.