The Federal Government has said that flights resumption to the United Arab Emirates are being delayed due to the country’s discriminatory Covid-19 protocol.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed this during the briefing by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 in Abuja.
UAE authorities in Dubai recently eased flight restrictions to Nigeria and other countries five months after the country restricted flights from Abuja and Lagos over antigen test requirements.
Emirates had announced plans to begin flight operations into Nigeria among other countries on June 23.
But Nigerian carriers have not been permitted to fly.
The minister said despite the new protocol drafted by Dubai, it is still discriminatory and directly targeted at Nigeria.
He said, “Even Ghanaians, Nigeriens and other African countries can go to Dubai directly; so the protocol is country-specific and it is not acceptable by the agreement and convention that we signed with the UAE.
“It is only one aviation and we found this position to be discriminatory against our country and it is not acceptable.”
On the antigen issues he said, “After review, some of the airlines, especially KLM, saw sense with what Nigeria presented, which is that you can do the test 48 hours to 72 hours before you leave and do another test on arrival.
“Emirates at that time wanted us to do the test 48 hours before boarding and 48 hours is not yet the incubation time.
”They expect us to do a rapid test at the airport and then fly seven hours later and do another test in Dubai and then follow us to our hotel or our accommodation and do another test.”
He said the country accepted what Emirates presented and proceeded even though KLM and other airlines towed the lines of Nigeria.
He added, “In this case, Emirates insisted again that in addition to the test on arrival and other tests, that Nigerians cannot fly to UAE except through Emirates airline.
”And that if we choose to do so through other airlines like Ethiopia, Qatar, Turkish or other airlines, we must remain in the country of that airline for two weeks if we are Nigerians before we continue to Dubai.
“Meaning that if I buy my ticket in a free market which Nigeria and UAE practices, if I buy a ticket on Ethiopian Airline, that means I must remain in Addis Ababa for two weeks whether I have a visa or not before I proceed to Dubai.