FG bars 7 international airlines from operating into Nigeria

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*Sirika

The federal government yesterday stopped Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Angolan TAG, Air Namibia and Royal Air Maroc from operating flights into the country as international operations begin tomorrow, September 5.

The minister of aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika who stated this during a briefing of the Presidential Taskforce (PTF) on COVID-19 in Abuja said only the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos would receive international flights.

He said EgyptAir, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines, AWA, Kenya Airways and Middle East Airlines will operate into the Lagos airport while British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian, AWA, and Middle East Airlines will land at the Abuja airport.

“Now, at this point, it is important that we announce the airlines that are allowed for operations into the country.

“The ones not approved are Air France. Middle East Airlines is approved for only Lagos (airport). British Airways (is) approved – allowed entry under COVID-19 protocol.

“The reason for Air France is that tourist’s business holders are not allowed entry. KLM not approved for the same reason as Air France. Delta Airlines, no restrictions – USA, we have an open skies with them and they also allow us in.

“Qatar Airways are allowed and approved under Covid-19 protocol. Etihad, not approved. Ethiopian Airlines allowed entry under Covid-19 protocol. Egyptair approved, allowed entry under Covid-19 protocol.

“Rwandair not approved. Air Peace, not applicable, they are our own carrier in Nigeria, we thank them. Virgin Atlantic, approved, allowed entry under Covid-19 protocol. Air Namibia, not approved. Asky, approved. Royal Air Maroc, not approved. African World Airways, Ghana, approved.

“Air Cote d’Ivoire, approved. Lufthansa, not approved. Kenya Airways approved. Emirates Airlines approved. Turkish Airlines approved. Cabo Verde not applicable as international flights are not resumed. Angolan TAG, not approved. South African Airways not applicable as international flights are yet to resume,” Sirika stated

The minister also announced that passengers who fail to comply with the COVID-19 protocol put in place to curb the importation of the virus would be suspended from travelling for six months while airlines that fail to comply would pay a fine of $3,500 per passenger.

He also stated that all intending travellers to Nigeria must test negative for COVID-19 in country of departure and the test must have been done four days prior to departure (preferably 72 hours before boarding).

He explained that for certain countries, the PCR would only be accepted from identified laboratories.

“All intending passengers are required to register on an online international travel payment portal at http//:nitp.ncdc.gov.ng, and pay for a repeat test that would be done in Nigeria,” he said.

“Once payment is completed, passengers will receive an email for selected laboratory of their choice providing them with the laboratory link to register for the PCR test on the seventh day of their arrival. Passengers would be allowed to choose a sample collection centre and appointment date and time for collection.”

Sirika said a list of private laboratories and sample collection centres would be available on NCDC website, adding that passengers would also fill the online self-declaration form also located at the same payment platform and either submit online or present it on arrival.

“They must ensure that the information, contact details provided on the platform are correct and verifiable and can be reached when needed. Passengers must inform port health officials on arrival of any changes in their health.

“Prior to boarding, passengers must upload their COVID-19 negative test result on the payment portal and will have a copy for presentation at the airport. Prior to boarding, all travellers will undergo screening for fever and would be questioned for COVID-19 symptoms.

“Passengers with COVID-19 symptoms will not be allowed to board the flight and airlines must only board passengers with COVID-19 test result done within the stipulated four days.

“Airlines that board passengers without the negative COVID-19 PCR test will be sanctioned as follows:

“Non-Nigerian will be refused entry and return to country of origin at the airlines’ cost.

“Nigerians will be allowed entry and subjected to compulsory quarantine for 14 days in government approved facility at the cost to the passengers. Airlines will be fined $3,500 per passenger for failure to comply with the pre-boarding requirements.

“Passengers who fail to submit themselves or declare their PCR test will be placed on watch list for six months and denied foreign travel.”

The minister, however, gave the assurance that the test result would be available within 24 days, just as he explained that passengers, who display COVID-19 symptoms on arrival, would not be allowed to self-quarantine but would be placed on institutional quarantine.

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