Ethiopian Airlines has denied getting approval by the Federal Government to evacuate Nigerians from Canada.
This is just as the airline has evacuated 187 Canadians and resident permit holders from Nigeria on 21 May from Lagos Airport on B787 to Addis Ababa onward transfer to Canada.
Its General Manager in Nigeria, Firihewot Mekonnen, explained in a statement that it is the responsibility of the Nigerian Government and its agencies to choose partners for such evacuation, emphasising that the airline has been operating regular flights between Addis Ababa and Toronto Canada for years.
She also stated that more Canadians would be evacuated from Nigeria as arrangements are ongoing.
“Ethiopian Airlines, as an airline, is ready to operate any flight as an evacuation when requested by the respective government and agencies. As at now, the airline has already operated such flights and is having an ongoing discussion to evacuate Canadians and Canada resident permit holders from Nigeria.
“Ethiopian Airlines is not yet contracted to evacuate Nigerians from Canada. That is the responsibility of the Nigerian Government and its agencies to choose partners for such evacuation,” she said.
The airline’s denial comes after Daily Sun’s reported that the Federal Government bowed to pressure from the Canadian government to drop Air Peace from carrying out the evacuation of Nigerians in Canada who wish to return home over the COVID-19 pandemic after Ottawa denied the airline landing permit.
The Federal Government also promised the stranded Nigerians that it would make necessary refunds to the affected Nigerians based on the agreement clause between them with Air Peace.
Air Peace was to evacuate Canadians who are stranded in Nigeria back to Canada and bring back Nigerian citizens from Canada on its return leg. This arrangement was refused by the Canadian commission which had already engaged Ethiopian Airlines to evacuate its citizens from Nigeria.
A document obtained from the Canada High Commission two weeks ago, directed that passengers should pay $2, 500 to Ethiopian Airlines; while Air Peace charged $1,134 for the same flight.