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UAE suspends Air Peace flights from Nigeria over COVID-19

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The United Arab Emirates has suspended Nigerian airline, Air Peace, from operating passenger flights to the country.

The decision was said to have been taken as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Air Peace management announced the suspension in a statement issued on Thursday.

Part of the statement made read, “The management of Air Peace wishes to notify the flying public that the UAE Government has stopped the airlifting of Nigerians from Nigeria to the UAE as part of its COVID-19 measures.

“However, flights bringing Nigerians back from the UAE are not affected. To this end, Air Peace flight from the UAE (Sharjah-Dubai) to Lagos is not affected.

“Normal flights shall resume when the restriction is lifted from February 28, 2021.

“Our esteemed customers whose flights are disrupted by this development can send a mail to us via callcenter@flyairpeace.com for a possible reschedule.”

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Aviation

COVID-19: BA asks travellers to drop luggage day before flying

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British Airways has urged travellers to consider dropping off their luggage a day before flying after chaotic scenes at Heathrow Airport due to staff shortage.
The UK’s flagship carrier has sent the message to its customers that the airport’s Terminal 5 will be ‘busy’ and that they may want to check-in their bags the night before they fly.
On Monday travellers described scenes of ‘total chaos’ as dozens of security staff failed to show for work because they were told to self-isolate by the NHS app.
Travellers reported only two security lanes being open at one point for thousands of travellers.
Images and video were posted on social media showing travellers packed into Terminal 5 with little social distancing as they waited to get through security.
Dozens of flights were delayed and some passengers missed their flights.
The BA has asked travellers to consider dropping off their bags at Terminal 5 between the hours of 4pm and 9pm the night before if they are due to fly before 1pm the next day.
The message being sent by text and email to customers read, ‘The airport will be busy when you fly.
‘To save time and avoid long queues, you can check in your bag the day before you fly from 16:00 – 21:00 at London Heathrow T5.
‘You can also check-in hand baggage free of charge.’

The chaos at Heathrow on Monday morning affected flights between 7am and 1pm, with the airport drafting in extra staff and insisting the problem had been fixed by the afternoon.
However, with further security staff subject to being ‘pinged’ and having to self-isolate, travellers are being urged to arrive at the airport several hours before they are due to take off.

A BA spokesman said: ‘We are pleased to offer our long-standing twilight check-in service for customers to enable them to start their journey as relaxed as possible.’

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Aviation

Nigerian airlines owe aviation agencies N37bn – Sirika

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Nigerian airlines owe various federal aviation agencies a total of N37bn, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has said.

Sirika stated this while speaking at the weekly ministerial press briefing organised by the presidential communication team at the presidential villa, Abuja.

He said the agencies being owed included the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

According to him, Arik owes about N14 billion, Bi-Courtney owing FAAN about N14 billion, adding that for the past 13 years since it began operations, it had not remitted any amount to the agency them as contrary to the agreement.

Sirika said the government had been cautious in demanding the payment, mindful of how the media and Nigerian public might react but vowed that the government would go after the airlines.

Sirika said, “It is about N37 billion that they are owing, especially Arik, the culprit. I know they’re owing us about N13 billion to N14 billion.

“Bi-Courtney is owing about N14 billion as at the last count. It has not paid a single dime since the time it started to run the terminal building. And we have not ceased giving electricity, water, fire cover, and so on and so forth. It hasn’t paid a dime for 13 years.”

On the national carrier, the minister said Nigeria would begin the operation of a new national air carrier in the first quarter of 2022.

“I’m happy to say, we have discussed with the high and mighty. We discussed with Boeing, Airbus, we have reached some agreements. We discussed with airlines like Qatar, and many others. We will have this timeline in 2022 by the grace of God. And we’ll start with the domestic, you know, escalating into international.”

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Aviation

Nigeria, UAE resume talks over suspended Dubai flights – Minister

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says delay due to Emirates discriminatory protocol 

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says the Federal Government of Nigeria has resumed talks with the United Arab Emirates on the resolution of the impasse leading to the suspension of flights between the two countries.

He said flights to Dubai were yet to resume because of discriminatory nature of the COVID-19 protocol introduced by Emirates.

He spoke on Monday in Abuja at the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19.

Sirika said the protocol appeared to be targeted at only Nigerians as it was discriminatory and not backed up scientifically.

He said that Dubai was insisting that all passengers intending to visit its country must use Emirates Airline or spend two weeks in the alternative carrier’s country before gaining entrance to Dubai.

He, however, said talks were ongoing to resolve the matter.

The minister said, “Emirate in particular and other airlines including KLM gave us some conditions that were not acceptable to us because they don’t make scientific sense. After review, some of the airlines, especially KLM, saw sense with what Nigeria presented which is that you can do the test 48 to 72 hours before you leave and do another test on arrival.

“Emirates at that time wanted us to do the test 48 hours before boarding and 48 hours is not yet the incubation time yet and they expect us to do a rapid test at the airport and then fly seven hours later and do another test in Dubai and then follow us to our hotel or our accommodation and do another test.

“We accepted what Emirates presented and proceeded even though KLM and other airlines saw our reasons and rationale and towed the lines of Nigeria. In this case, Emirate insisted again that in addition to the test on arrival and other tests, that Nigerians cannot fly to the UAE except through Emirate airlines and that if we choose to do so through other airlines like Ethiopia, Qatar, Turkish or other airlines, we must remain in the country of that airline for two weeks if we are a Nigerian before we continue to Dubai.”

He also said, “If I buy my ticket in a free market which Nigeria and the UAE practices, if I buy a ticket on Ethiopian airline, that means I must remain in Addis Ababa for two weeks whether I have a visa or not before I proceed to Dubai.

“So, they insisted that we must fly by Emirates and majority of Nigerians are petty traders and the ticket of Emirates in this case maybe higher than other airlines. We thought we could take it diplomatically and we have been meeting and exchanging ideas because at some point, they said they are being hard on Nigerians because there are fake results and I said there are fake results in UAE, Germany, UK, USA, all over the world, there are fake results but Nigeria went ahead to put measures in place to detect fake results.

“So, we have gone the extra mile plus if you look at the rate of infection and the rate of people catching COVID-19 in Nigeria, we are far less than many other countries in the world which UAE did not apply that principle upon.

“The total number of deaths in Nigeria may be 3,000; but in one day, 3,000 Italians die or British and they are still allowed to go direct to the UAE. Even Ghanaians, Nigeriens, and other African countries can go to Dubai directly. So the protocol is country-specific and it is not acceptable by the agreement and convention that we signed with the UAE.”

The UAE had in February barred passengers from Nigeria from flying into Dubai due to the government’s refusal to allow the airline to conduct the rapid test for COVID-19. The ban was expected to last for three to four weeks but was extended in March.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority in retaliation banned Emirates from flying into Nigeria due to non-compliance with COVID-19 protocols as well as the introduction of a rapid antigen test as a requirement for Dubai travellers.

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