By Chinelo Obogo

Less than 48 hours after the United Arab Emirates lift ed its ban on flights coming and going out of Nigeria,  Emirates Airline has again suspended flights to and from Lagos and Abuja with effect from June 21 until further notice.

According to the airline, customers travelling to and from Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted for travel, and those who have been to – or connected through – Nigeria in the last 14 days will not be permitted to board from any other point to the UAE. In a letter to passengers, the airline said: “We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking,” said the airline. “Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow.”

Emirates’ also said that flights from South Africa would remain suspended until July 6, in line with government’s directives that restrict the entry of travellers originating from South Africa, into the UAE.

“Daily passenger flights to Johannesburg will operate as EK7 63, but outbound passenger services on EK 764 remain suspended. Customers who have been to or connected through South Africa in the last 14 days will not be permitted on any Emirates flights bound for Dubai,” the airline stated.

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The airline had on Saturday, June 19, announced that it would be resuming flight operations in Nigeria from June 23rd.

A statement from Dubai Media Office said passengers from Nigeria were expected to have received a negative result for a PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure. Passengers were also expected to present a negative PCR test certificate with a QR code from laboratories approved by the Nigerian government, while also undergoing same test upon arrival at the Dubai airport.

Emirates Airline had on February 1, directed that Nigerian travellers at the Lagos and Abuja airports must conduct rapid COVID-19 tests before departure. This directive made the Federal Government impose a ban on Emirates flights into Nigeria. The ban was lifted after the airline agreed to stop the rapid antigen tests.

The ban on Emirates was reintroduced on March 15 after the Federal Government accused the airline of rescinding on the agreement.

On March 25, 2021, the UAE embassy in Abuja announced new COVID-19 travel protocols for Nigeria as measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the country, passengers who have been in or transited through South Africa or Nigeria in the last 14 days before travelling to Dubai were barred from entering Dubai