Chinelo Obogo, [email protected]
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, has said that arrangements have been concluded with British Airways to run charter flights from Nigeria which will evacuate British citizens on April 18 and April 20, 2020. Laing explained in a statement, that the nationals would pay less than £500 and be evacuated from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
She also stated that to be eligible for all flights, primary residence has to be in the UK and that she would prioritise helping the most vulnerable returnee and those whose underlying medical condition placing them at greater risk of serious illness if they contact COVID-19. Individuals are expected to pay for their seats.
“I’m really pleased to tell you that we have now made arrangements with British Airways to run charter flights for us from Nigeria. The first flights will depart this Saturday April 18, and the flight departure times are 15:10 from Lagos and 15:35 from Abuja. Of course, the exact times could be subject to change. The price for these flights will be just under £500.
“To be eligible for these flights, you need to be a British citizen, normally resident in the UK and we will be prioritising vulnerable people. When you book, you will be asked for your passport details and a UK address and we will be doing eligibility checks. I should also say that making a booking does not automatically guarantee you a seat on the first flight, but if you are eligible you will be transferred to a subsequent flight. “With regard to the questions on getting to the airport, it is very important that you print and take your ticket with you, and if you are stopped at checkpoints, show that to security personnel and make it clear that you are going to the airport to take a repatriation flight to the UK. Those of you who are successful in making bookings, we will email you with all the details you will need including the time you will need to be at the airport.”
The UK Mission also stated that the Federal Government has given assurance that people who exceed their authorised visa stays as a result of travel restrictions linked to COVID-19 would not be penalised as over-stayers when they depart.
“There are currently no commercial options available to return to the UK from Nigeria. All airports in Nigeria are closed to all international commercial flights until 23 April. We know this is concerning British people trying to leave Nigeria. The Nigerian authorities have told us that people who exceed their authorised visa stays as a result of travel restrictions linked to COVID-19 will not be penalised as over-stayers when they depart,” it said.
So far, over 2000 foreign nationals from the US, Canada, Germany, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, South Africa and France have been evacuated from their countries. The Nigerian Mission in the UK has also received over 140 applications from Nigerians resident in Britain who are interested in being evacuated.