Hundreds of American nationals who were scheduled to be evacuated from Nigeria over the COVID-19 pandemic, were left stranded in the morning of Friday, at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
The nationals who had already been checked in by the airport authorities were seen collecting their baggage from the arrival baggage belts with the plan to go back home.
A source at MMIA told Saturday Sun that the US Embassy had contracted a private charter company to evacuate them but the flight was cancelled because it couldn’t obtain over-flight permit to fly over the airspace of some West African countries.
Over-flight permits are authorisations from Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs) to overfly a country’s airspace. These differ in terms of regulations and airspace coverage area, depending on the country.
Saturday Sun spoke to Mr. Russell Brookes, the Head of Public Affairs department of the US Embassy in Lagos, who confirmed that their citizens were to be evacuated Friday morning but the exercise didn’t take place. He however stated that the embassy was working hard to ensure that the evacuation takes place ‘as soon as possible.’
“It is correct that we wanted to evacuate some of our American citizens on Friday but unfortunately there was a problem with the aircraft that was intended to arrive and we are working on making other arrangements so those people can still leave the country. It’s definitely not happening today (Friday) but we are working to ensure that there would be flights to take them as soon as possible,” Mr. Brookes said. The US Mission in Nigeria has previously made it clear that nationals who wish to be evacuated would have to sign a promissory note that they will pay for their seats.