By Chinelo Obogo
The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has expressed worry over the COVID-19 policy by Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), restricting Nigerian passengers from transiting through other airports into the city.
NANTA’s President, Susan Akporiaye, said it is worrisome that Nigerian passengers will be made to undergo a rapid response COVID-19 antigen test before departure to Dubai.
She lamented that the implication of the policy is that passengers entering the city from Nigeria would have to fly only Emirates, a UAE-owned airline.
“We are studying the situation and consulting widely as the new travel restrictions may put additional financial pressures on Nigerian passengers and also create a monopolistic hold on the route. Indeed, we don’t know what is going on in the minds of other countries and their airlines, a situation that may trigger retaliatory actions.
“NANTA believes that such gestures and arrangements will enhance the credibility of the additional COVID-19 protocols into Dubai and also encourage others in travel business to recover and contribute to building a global coalition against the impact of COVID19.
“We call on the Minister of Aviation, Captain Hadi Sirika, to help intervene as we crave for a better arrangement, possibly involving other stakeholders. We need collaboration and understanding because no man is an island,” Akporiaye said.
The rapid response antigen test can only be done in Lagos and Abuja by Dubai bound passengers from and the cost is N36,800 and N25,800 respectively, in addition to the PCR test from approved laboratories by the Nigerian Center for Disease Control ( NCDC).
In a letter from the Airports Operations Control Center, Dubai, sent to Nigerian Travel Trade partners, it said passengers from Nigeria can no longer travel through other countries or airports to the city.
The notice was titled, ‘Dubai Travel Protocol Update –Travel from Nigeria’ and it read: “Kindly be advised that effective from 01 February 2021, the following conditions must be met for travel from Nigeria: All passengers are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 certificate. The PCR should be conducted within 72 hours of the date of departure. All passengers are required to conduct a rapid COVID-19 test and obtain a negative result within four hours of their departure time.”
Passengers must travel directly from Nigeria to Dubai. No passenger may enter Dubai from any other country/station if they have visited or transited from Nigeria in the last 14 days.”
What this policy implies is that no other airline would be able to fly Nigerian passengers straight to Dubai besides Emirates, a UAE owned airline which has its major hub at the Dubai International Airport.