Nigeria doesn’t want Covid-19 travel restrictions left unanswered

As countries have been restricting travel connections with Nigeria due to the Covid-19, Nigerian officials raise their voices with travel bans, too.

Nigerian airline company Air Peace's aircraft,
After several months unable to fly over the United Arab Emirates, the company was only allocated one flight a week to Emirate airports | © Anna Zvereva, 2016

On December 6, the United Kingdom placed Nigeria on a red list because of the surge of the Covid-19 omicron variant. Nigeria joined 10 other African countries banned from traveling to the Kingdom. The U.K. said several cases of the omicron variant on its soil were related to travel from Nigeria.

At the end of the week, Hadi Sirika, the minister of Aviation of Nigeria, then explained the federal government would reciprocate flight restrictions. As such, he anticipated that the United Kingdom, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Argentina would be all banned from flying to Nigeria as well, most probably from December 14.

If they do not allow us to come into their countries; who are they to come, as airlines, and pick from our country?“, the minister said.

Disagreements between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates

It is not the fist time Nigeria tries to give a political answer to the sanitary restrictions. In fact, flight connections between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates have been chaotic in recent months. Flights opened again less than a month ago.

In March, Dubai imposed additional Covid-19 tests requirements on passengers coming from Nigeria. As Nigerian officials found the protocol discriminatory and unfair, Nigeria retaliated by banning Emirates airlines flights from and to the country.

It removed the ban on Emirates Airlines at the end of November and also allowed Air Peace to fly again to the U.A.E.

Emirates Airlines asked for and was granted 21 flights a week to Nigeria. But Air Peace, the Nigerian airline company, was only allocated one slot out of the 3 requested to the United Arab Emirates. The U.A.E. argued the airport of Sharjah was operating at over-capacity.

On December 9, the minister of Aviation decided to apply the “principle of reciprocity” and withdrew the original schedule given to Emirates Airlines. He therefore only approved one weekly flight to Nigeria.

In a note, the director general of the Nigerian civil aviation authority concluded that “national interests in all aviation matters will be jealously guided and protected“.

The “sovereignty of 200 million Nigerians is too important“, considered Minister Hadi Sirika.

Read more about Nigeria

News release, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, December 2021, Free access, PDF

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