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10 foreign airlines barred from entering Nigeria

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Image Credits: Kenneth Iwelumo, International Maritime Organisation.

Ten airlines, including Air France and KLM, will not fly into Nigeria from tomorrow, the day international flights resume in the country.

The others are Etihad, Rwandair, Lufthansa, TAAG Angola Airlines, Air Namibia, Royal Air Maroc, South African Airways and Cape Verde airlines.

Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika

While South African and Cape Verde airlines were barred because international flights had yet to resume in their countries, the eight others were affected by regulations and visa related issues in their own nations.

14 airlines, including Air Peace, British Airways, Emirates, and Delta airlines however got the nod to fly in and out of Nigeria. The others are Middle-East, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Egyptair, Virgin Atlantic, Asky, Africa World Airways (AWA), Air Cote-d’Ivoire, Kenya Airways and Turkish airlines.

While they are expected to operate within COVID-19 protocols and fresh guidelines, passengers from some countries would quarantine.

Also, passengers who fail to present valid COVID-19 tests or refuse to go for a repeat tests might be placed on a travel watch-list for six months.

Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika announced these while briefing members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja on Thursday.

“Airfrance and Lufthansa were not approved. The reason is that Swiss visas owners are not allowed entry and the same reason for KLM.

“In making decisions as to who comes, in the wisdom of the PTF and the Ministry of Aviation, we understood that the government has done very well with a low rate of fatality. If you look at other countries, for example, they recorded a lot of fatalities.

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“We are over 200 million people and we are still talking about 1,000 deaths. I think we have done very well in fighting this disease(COVID-19).  I think we don’t have any reason whatsoever to disallow Nigerians from traveling.

“What we have done is to review the issues from other countries and what they have done to us. In the case of Britain, they said when we come, they will quarantine us and so, when they come to us too, we will quarantine them.

“For Ethiopian airlines, most of the passengers are not from Addis-Ababa, so we said when they come in too, we will subject them to the protocol of COVID-19. So, they are bringing in only people who are negative.”

The minister also hinted that passengers who fail to present a valid COVID-19 test or who refuse to go for a repeat test may be placed on a travel watch list for six months.

On what is expected of the passengers, he said: “All intending passengers must have tested negative for COVID-19 in the country of departure before boarding. The test must be within four days and we prefer 72 hours pre-boarding. Test done more than four days before boarding are not valid and passengers will not be allowed to board.

“All intending passengers are required to register via a national payment portal online; Nigeria international travel portal and the website is http://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng and they are expected to pay for a second test to be done upon arrival in Nigeria.

Other requirements include: “Airlines that board passengers without a negative COVID-19 test or test result more than four days will be sanctioned as follows: “Non-Nigerians may be refused a return to a point of embarkation at the cost of the airline. The airline will bear the cost of taking such passengers back to where they come from once they are boarded without a negative PCR test result or more than four days prior to boarding.

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