LAGOS – Nigeria has lifted its Emirates Airlines (EK) suspension, imposed after the carrier sought additional COVID-19 tests for passengers from Nigeria.

“The company can confirm that we will continue to operate services to Abuja and Lagos”, an Emirates spokesperson said.

“The suspension has just been lifted, because they have complied with what we want,” said the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) spokesman over a phone call. The Presidential Task Force (PTF) directed the NCCA to lift the suspension placed on Emirates Airlines flights into Nigeria effective February 5.

The NCCA spokesman further added that the public is informed that the airline no longer requires passengers to carry out pre-departure Rapid Antigen Test (RDT). “No laboratory has been approved by the PTF and other regulatory agencies to carry out RDT for incoming of departing passenger,” he said.

Emirates Airlines Suspension

In a statement issued on Friday, the Director General of NCCA, Capt. Musa Nuhu, recalled that the PTF that passengers traveling by EK from Nigeria were required to undergo RDT four hours from the time of flights departure. This was in addition to the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)test, done 72 hours from the date of departure by passengers.

In a letter to the airline’s country manager, dated February 4 and titled “suspension of Emirates Airlines operations to Nigeria”, the NCAA said the airline had carried passengers from Nigeria using rapid antigen tests “conducted by laboratories that are neither approved nor authorized by the appropriate regulatory bodies.”

According to Reuters, the NCAA in its letter, said the decision to suspend Emirates was taken because the airline failed to heed a request to either accept passengers without the rapid test until the appropriate infrastructure was in place or suspend flights to and from Nigeria until that time.

This month, the UAE authorities said the passengers flying to Dubai from Nigeria would not be permitted entry if they transited via a third country. They further stated that passengers could only enter using direct flights, according to industry sources and travel notice on the RwandAir website.

Featured image: Emirates A380. Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways