The Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Monday, resumed international flights with Ethiopian Airlines breaking the ice. The publicised resumption however got off on a rough start as the airline almost aborted the flight following a disagreement with passengers over Nigeria’s COVID-19 protocol for arriving passengers. It was gathered that the pilot operating the Addis-Ababa-Abuja service had announced minutes after taxiing that he had been ordered to disembark passengers whose repeat test payment had not been approved in Abuja. The pilot explained to the passengers that Nigerian aviation authorities had warned airlines of unpalatable consequences if the passengers arrived Abuja without presenting an acknowledgement receipt for payment.
The pilot, not wanting to incur the wrath of Nigerian authorities, quietly returned to the terminal for the 32 Nigerians passengers affected by the announcement to disembark. But they refused to leave the aircraft and vowed to abort the trip unless they were cleared to fly with other passengers. It was learned however that following the intervention of some influential Nigerians, who called relevant agencies, the pilot secured the nod to operate the flight after about an hour delay.
Traumatised passengers lamented that the COVID-19 payment portal server had been erratic since Monday morning. The passengers said attempts to make online payments were unsuccessful as they were repeatedly debited without getting the required barcode to confirms payment for the repeat test.