MIAMI – The Nigerian government has slammed Emirates Airlines’ (EK) outbound flights with a 72-hour suspension beginning February 4.

The Daily Post – Nigeria News reports that the flight ban first appeared in a Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) circular issued on February 4. It explained that the suspension is due to the airline not following guidelines put in place by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

Nigeria is accusing the airline of airlifting passengers from Nigeria and using rapid antigen tests performed at unapproved laboratories.

The circular read, “…the PTF has directed that Emirates Airlines should either accept passengers without RDT pending when the infrastructure and logistics are put in place or suspend its flights to and from Nigeria until such a time when the required infrastructure and logistics are fully established and implemented.”

“Emirates Airlines has not been in compliance with the two options given by the PTF, as records obtained from Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) indicate that Emirates Airlines operated the flights from both Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja.”

Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER) reg. A6-EQA taking off from Rome Fiumicino International Aiport (FCO). Photo: Marco Macca – @aviator_ita

Uneasy Relationship

In September, Nigeria already banned EK, as well as Lufthansa (LH), Air France (AF), and KLM (KL) from flying to the country in light of the pandemic. Nigeria lifted these bans by the end of September.

Also, according to a report on in January, a Nigerian Federal High Court in Lagos ordered EK to pay US$1.63m to a businessman for losing his luggage. The bag, which reportedly contained the said sum of money in cash, went missing 12 years ago on a trip to China. On top of replacing the money, Nigeria fined EK 50 million Nigerian Naira in damages, which equates to around US$131,000.

Nigeria has overtaken South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy. With over 200 million people, it is the largest market in the continent with a population nearly twice the size of Ethiopia’s (110 million) or Egypt’s (102 million).

Featured image: Emirates Boeing 777-300(ER) Reg. A6-ECK taxiing FLL Photo: © Max Taubman – @maximumaviation