The war of words between Emirates and the Nigerian government continues. This week, the government confirmed that Emirates remains banned from flying to Nigeria, calling the UAE’s travel ban “discriminatory.” This ongoing exchange means Emirates has not been flying to Nigeria since late March, hurting business and preventing thousands from flying.
According to Punch, Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika confirmed that there is currently no resumption date for Emirates flights. He went on to explain the government’s rationale behind banning the flag carrier, saying that the UAE’s travel ban on Nigerians is “discriminatory against our country and it is not acceptable.”
Currently, all travelers who have been in Nigeria in the last 14 days cannot enter the UAE, even for transit. This has complicated Emirates’ return to the country, which already received a travel ban in mid-March due to testing disagreements between the UAE and Nigeria.
Four months later and the situation is no closer to being resolved. Resuming flights have been further complicated by the UAE adding Nigeria to its list of banned countries, which has only infuriated the government further. This means there is no timeline on when Emirates flights will resume from Nigeria, with the government showing little appetite to negotiate.
On 19th June, Dubai authorities announced that Nigerian travelers could travel to the UAE once again from 23rd June onwards. While travelers don’t need to be vaccinated, they were required to take a pre-flight test within 48 hours and one on arrival in Dubai. This would have solved Nigeria’s original complaint and likely allowed flights to resume.
However, just 48 hours later, it became clear that this plan would not be implemented. This mixed messaging once again left thousands of travelers in the UAE and in Nigeria frustrated. With no outbound flights to Nigeria, travelers had to take a one-stop connection with other airlines. Meanwhile, those in Nigeria were still stuck.
The Nigerian government has equally unhappy with the situation and once called for the ban to be removed. The government also realizes its position, with Mr. Sirika saying that, considering the 200 million-strong population of Nigeria and millions in foreign exchange at stake, “We cannot afford to be hoodwinked to their own terms and conditions.”
For Nigeria’s part, cases in the country remain low, with cases in the double digits for the last three months. However, tensions with the UAE over migrant workers and other immigration issues mean removing the ban is a political choice. For now, there seems to be no timeline for flights returning.
Only once the UAE lifts its travel ban, can talks even begin about Emirates returning to the country. Until then, passengers hoping to travel must spend 14 days outside the UAE first.