By Chinelo Obogo
Dubai, a city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has ordered that that passengers from Nigeria can no longer travel through other countries or airports into the city.
The regulations restricting Nigerian passengers from transiting through other airports was contained in a letter from the Airports Operations Control Center, Dubai, sent to Nigerian Travel Trade partners. The notice by Dubai Airports came after the United Kingdom blocked passengers from Dubai from entering the UK on January 29, as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID19.
The notice was titled, ‘Dubai Travel Protocol Update –Travel from Nigeria’ and it read: “Kindly be advised that effective from 01 February 2021, the following conditions must be met for travel from Nigeria: All passengers are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 certificate. The PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.
“All passengers are required to conduct a rapid COVID-19 test and obtain a negative result within four hours of their departure time. Passengers must travel directly from Nigeria to Dubai. No passenger may enter Dubai from any other country/station if they have visited or transited from Nigeria in the last 14 days.”
What this policy implies is that no other airline would be able to fly Nigerian passengers besides Emirates, a UAE owned airline which has its major hub at the Dubai International Airport.
Industry stakeholders believe that
Dubai is intentionally creating monopoly for Emirates Airline with this policy and are urging the Federal Government to intervene by reciprocating as the development would increase the cost of travel.
Aviation Round Table argued that besides creating capacity for Emirates, the policy negates the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) which Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates operate. They further urged Nigerian carriers to request reciprocity.
“What this implies is that Emirates will be the sole airline operating to Dubai.This goes against the bilateral air agreement between the two countries. Nigeria is at a position to reject this unilateral imposition based on the huge passenger traffic from Nigeria to UAE.”
There were fears that this may affect airlines like Air Peace which is currently the only domestic airline that carries passengers to Sharjah, UAE. Azman, another domestic airline, had last year revealed plans to commence flights to Dubai.
But Air Peace has allayed fears that the policy will affect its UAE operations.
The airline said it has notified intending travellers to the UAE that its Lagos-Sharjah flights are not affected by the new COVID-19 flight protocols.
The Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Mrs. Toyin Olajide explained that the COVID-19 rapid test at the airport four hours before departure does not affect the airline’s passengers who are expected to submit 72 hours coronavirus test result before the departure of their flights.
“We wish to draw the attention of our guests who intend to travel to Sharjah-Dubai with Air Peace that they are not expected to undergo rapid COVID-19 test at the airport four hours before departure, as indicated in the new Emirates COVID-19 protocols. They are expected to submit their 72 hours before departure test result.
“We wish to clarify this because Air Peace operates into Sharjah in United Arab Emirates and therefore its passengers are exempted from the rapid COVID-19 test four hours before departure,” Olajide said.