UAE demands Nigerians fly only Emirates, blocks direct flights to Dubai
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has blocked direct flights to Dubai, demanding Nigerians to fly only Emirates airlines, says aviation minister Hadi Sirika.
Mr Sirika revealed this on Monday while briefing the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 in Abuja on why Nigeria has not resumed flights to the UAE, accusing the Middle East country of discriminatory protocols.
The protocol, unscientific, appeared targeted at only Nigerians, he pointed out. He explained that UAE was insistent that all passengers intending to visit its country must use Emirates or spend two weeks in the alternative carrier’s country before entering Dubai. He, however, said that talks were ongoing to resolve the matter. According to him, Emirates and other airlines, including KLM, gave conditions unacceptable to Nigeria.
“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,” explained the minister.
After several discussions, he said the federal government “ceded and accepted that we would do those tests that don’t make scientific sense to us at the expense of our people and our monies.”
According to the minister, Emirates remained adamant.
“Emirates insisted again that in addition to the test on arrival and other tests, that Nigerians cannot fly to UAE except through Emirates airlines 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,” he stated.
What that meant is “that 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,” Mr Sirika pointed out.
He added, “So, they insisted that we must fly by Emirates and majority of Nigerians are petty traders, and the ticket of Emirates, in this case, maybe higher than other airlines.”