Int’l Flight Resumption: Why Nigeria Barred KLM, Air France, Etihad, Others

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As international flights will resume in the country on Saturday, the federal government has barred some airlines from operating in Nigeria in the meantime.

The Minister of Aviation, Alhaji Hadi Sirika, on Thursday said, some airlines were denied approval to operate because international flights were yet to resume in their countries.

Sirika released the list of the international airlines. They include Air France, KLM, Etihad, RwandAir, Lufthansa, TAAG Angola Airlines, Air Namibia, and Royal Air Maroc

Also Cape Verde and South African airlines were denied approval because international flights were yet to resume in their countries.

The airlines given licences to operate include: Middle-East, British Airways, Delta airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Egyptair, Air Peace, Virgin Atlantic, Asky, Africa World Airways (AWA), Air Cote-d’Ivoire, Kenya Airways, Emirate, and Turkish airlines.

The airlines are expected to operate in line with Covid-19 protocols.

The minister at the briefing by members of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, also issued further guidelines for arriving and departing international passengers.

Speaking on the criteria used for approving and denying the airlines, he said, “We used the foreign carrier operator permit, which is the requirement by our laws, guidelines by Covid-19 Presidential Task Force and other guidelines including restrictions that came from other countries which will affect our own operations here at home.

“Airfrance and Lufthansa were not approved. The reason is that Swiss visas owners are not allowed entry and the same reason for KLM.

“In making decisions as to who comes, in the wisdom of the PTF and the ministry of Aviation, we understood that the government has done very well with a low rate of fatality. If you look at other countries, for example, they recorded lots of fatalities.

“We are over 200million people and we are still talking about 1000 deaths. I think we have done very well to fight this disease, so I think we don’t have any reason whatsoever to disallow Nigerians to travel.

“What we have done is to review the issues from other countries and what they have done to us. In the case of Britain, they said when we come, they will quarantine us and so, when they come to us too, we will quarantine them.

“For Ethiopian airlines, most of the passengers are not from Addis-Ababa, so we said when they come in too, we will subject them to the protocol of Covid-19. So, they are bringing in only people who are negative.”

The Minister also said passengers who fail to present a valid Covid-19 test or refuse to go for a repeat test may be placed on a travel watch list for six months.

Sirika giving more on the guidelines for passengers to adhere to said, “All intending passengers must have tested negative for Covid-19 in the country of departure before boarding.

“The test must be within four days and we prefer 72 hours pre-boarding. Tests done more than four days before boarding are not valid and passengers will not be allowed to board.

“All intending passengers are required to register via a national payment portal online; Nigeria international travel portal and the website is http://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng and they are expected to pay for a second test to be done upon arrival in Nigeria.

“Once payment is received, passengers will receive an email from the laboratory of their choice for a repeat test seven days after arrival. Passengers will be allowed to choose the sample collection centre and appointment time and date for sample collection centres.”

Other requirements include: “Airlines that board passengers without a negative Covif-19 test or test result more than four days will be sanctioned as follows:

“Non-Nigerians may be refused a return to a point of embarkation at the cost of the airline.

“So, the airline will bear the cost of taking those people back to where they come from once they are boarded without a negative PCR test result or more than four days prior to boarding.

“Nigerians will be allowed entry but subjected to a mandatory quarantine of 8-14 days depending on the result of the Covid-19 test is done upon arrival.

“So, passengers will be forced into quarantine at a facility approved by the government at the cost of the passenger.

“Airlines will be fined $3500 per passenger for failure to comply with the pre-boarding requirements. This is our law.

“On arriving Nigeria, passengers will be allowed to go through the port health screening and proceed on seven days self-isolation and observe strict physical and social distancing.”

Recall that FG had announced on August 17, that international flights would resume on August 29.

A new date, September 5, was later announced for the resumption of international flights in the country.

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