BY NICHOLAS ABE
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to throw up more issues, especially for air travellers across the globe, as United Arab Emirates (UAE) places fresh hurdles for Nigerans travelling to Dubai and other cities within the country.
RELIABLESOURCENG.COM reports that there are fresh hurdles for Nigerian travellers after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said it has banned Nigerians from entering the country by transiting flights.
With the new protocols, which took effect on Monday, only direct flights originating from Nigeria are now permitted to fly directly into any of the UAE airports, including Dubai International, a popular tourist route for Nigerians.
According to Daily Trust the new protocols have barred other airlines from carrying Nigerians to Dubai. However, Nigeria’s airline, Air Peace, which resumes its Dubai-Sharjar flight on Friday, February 5, is not affected.
In a reaction to this development, the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has urged the federal government to intervene over the new travel protocols. President of NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye said the development could put additional financial pressures on Nigerian travellers.
“We are studying the situation and consulting widely as the new travel restrictions may put additional financial pressures on Nigerian passengers and also create a monopolistic hold on the route,” she said.
Akporiaye also described as disturbing, the new protocol from the Dubai Airport Authority, requesting that Nigerian passengers undergo a rapid response COVID-19 antigen test before departure to Dubai.
The rapid response antigen test, it was gathered, can only be done in Lagos and Abuja, with Dubai bound passengers paying N36,800 and N25,800 respectively, in addition to the PCR test from approved laboratories by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The association also decried the insistence by UAE that Nigerians travelling to Dubai must only fly on Emirates airline, depriving other carriers in other transit routes including Ethiopian Airlines.
But in a statement, Emirates said the decision by the UAE was not to single out Nigerian passengers.
“As part of the UAE Government’s ongoing efforts to ensure a safe and healthy environment in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, a range of health requirements and testing protocols have been put in place.
“Similarly, to the measures taken by governments around the world, including the Nigerian Government, protocols like testing frameworks undergo reviews and updates based on the prevailing situation at the time,” the statement said.