The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has banned Nigerian passengers from transiting other airports before going to Dubai.
Effective from Monday February 1, only those travelling directly from Nigeria would be allowed in Dubai while those transiting through other airports outside Nigeria would not be allowed into the world’s busiest airport.
Also, in addition to Covid-19 PCR test within the previous 72 hours, passengers are expected to undergo rapid coronavirus test at the airport four hours before the departure of their flight.
The regulations were contained in a statement at the weekend by Dubai Airport’s Operations Control Centre, dated January 29, 2021 and titled, “Dubai Travel Protocol Update-Travel from Nigeria.”
The statement said: “Kindly be advised that effective from 01 February 2021, the following conditions must be met for travel from Nigeria: All passengers are required to obtain a negative Covid-19 certificate. The PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure.
“All passengers are required to conduct a rapid Covid-19 test and obtain a negative result within four hours of their departure time. Passengers must travel directly from Nigeria to Dubai. No passenger may enter Dubai from any other country/station if they have visited or transited from Nigeria in the last 14 days.”
Reacting to this new development, industry stakeholders accused Emirates of trying to create monopoly by eliminating competition because it would be only Emirates and Air Peace that would now be qualified to airlift passengers from Nigeria to Dubai.
Former CEO of Aero Contractors and Managing Director designate for NG Eagle Airline, Captain Ado Sanusi, told THISDAY that countries would use the pandemic to stifle competition in air transport by creating stringent laws that would exclude competitors.
He, therefore, urged the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to agree on a standard to be adopted by member countries.
Travel expert and the organiser of Akwaaba African Travel Market, Ikechi Uko, told THISDAY that Emirates wants to use the Nigerian route to recoup its losses from other destinations it was banned from.
Uko said the UK aviation authorities banned Emirates when investigations revealed that most of the passengers that returned from the United Arab Emirates were down with different strains of coronavirus and this is a huge loss to the Middle East carrier, which operates 78 flights a week to the UK.
He said that Emirates has concluded plans to renew its second flight from Lagos, which was suspended shortly before the lockdown last year, which would give the airline 21 frequencies a week from Nigeria.
To further limit competition, Emirates has also introduced rapid Covid-19 test four hours before departure because other airlines may not have capacity to conduct the rapid test before departure and without the rapid test, passengers may not be allowed into Dubai.
“This new policy will give Emirates too many passengers from Nigeria. They will clean out the market. Before now, Ethiopian Airlines airlifts the highest number of passengers from Nigeria but British Airways and Emirates generate the highest profit because of their high fares, but now Emirates might increase fares from the current over $500 to $700 and even to $1000 for economy class.
“Rapid test will give Emirates an advantage. First, it will reduce competition; two Nigerian travellers have been turning up with fake travelling certificate. They want to make sure no one goes to Dubai with Covid-19,” Uko said.
But the stakeholders also admitted that every country has the right to create its own air corridor.