The United Arab Emirates (UAE) which earlier yesterday issued a directive to airlines that operate to Dubai from Nigeria not to fly passengers from the West African countries to the Middle East country has reversed itself.
The UAE attributed the reason for the initial ban to 36 travellers from Nigeria that tested positive to COVID-19 virus.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded at the Nigerian international airports when they were told by airlines billed to airlift them that they would not travel to Dubai due to a directive from UAE.
Although this was attributed to the diplomatic impasse between Nigeria and UAE, the Arab nation had said it took the decision because more Nigerians were testing positive to COVID-19.
Due to the directive, THISDAY learnt that airlines which included Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Air among others, which airlift Nigerian via their operational hubs to Dubai, started rejecting passengers from Nigeria.
An official of one of the airlines had earlier told THISDAY that the airline would not airlift Nigerians whose final destination was the UAE.
The airlines, it was gathered, insisted that they had been directed not to airlift Nigerian passport holders to Dubai.
“UAE says no entry for Nigerian passengers from any airline. Ethiopian just offloaded all passengers heading to Dubai. We are voiding Dubai bound tickets,” a source at Abuja airport confirmed to THISDAY earlier yesterday.
A directive from one of the airlines had stated, “Due to an increasing number of COVID-19 positive passengers at destination, it is decided to suspend accepting passengers to UAE from Nigeria, Congo DRC (FIH) only. This is effective today, 13th December, 2021.”
A source close to Ethiopian Airlines had also confirmed to THISDAY, “Today they have to offload Dubai passengers. So no airline wants to carry Nigerian passengers to Dubai. They said Nigerians are testing positive to COVID-19; that is why some airlines are not carrying them. It is just like they did the last time.”
But by rescinding its earlier directive, there are indications that Nigeria and UAE might be on the way to resolving their issues relating to air travel between the two countries.
The federal government had last Thursday stopped Emirates’ 20 frequencies a week and left the airline with only one flight to Abuja in response to UAE allocating only one flight a week to Air Peace, a Nigerian carrier.