Lagos, Feb. 1, 2021 – The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has decried the latest COVID-19 protocol from Dubai Airport Authority requesting Nigerian passengers to undergo a rapid response COVID-19 antigen test before departure to Dubai.
NANTA also expressed shock at UAE’s insistence that Nigerians bound to Dubai must fly only Emirates airlines, foreclosing and boxing out transit routes opportunities into Dubai from other carriers.
“We are studying the situation and consulting widely as the new travel restrictions may put additional financial pressures on Nigerian passengers.
“It could 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 off retaliatory actions,” NANTA President, Susan Akporiaye, said in a statement in Lagos on Monday.
Akporiaye said the Dubai Airport Authority should have shown its open hands in the effort to check the COVID-19 pandemic through other means.
She said they could request other carriers and their home governments to set up rapid response antigen test at their various airports.
According to her, this would enable passengers on transit to undergo tests before flying into Dubai.
“We at NANTA believe that such arrangements will enhance the credibility of the additional COVID-19 protocols into Dubai and encourage others in travel business to recover and contribute to building a global coalition against the impact of COVID-19.
“Though the industry is polarised by the Dubai initiative, including the banning of transit passengers from other airlines to Dubai, the fear of under hand competition targeting other carriers by Emirates is gaining ground and causing palpable apprehension among travel trade operators and Nigerian travel community,” she said.
Akporaiye said the association was worried, calling on the Minister of Aviation to help intervene and interrogate this development.
“We appreciate the efforts of governments and airlines to help secure the lives of passengers and also protect their citizens which NANTA supports in all ramifications.
“But this additional requirement from Dubai Airport Authority and Emirates is far-fetched and we crave for a better arrangement, possibly involving other stakeholders.
“In this pandemic situation, no man is an island,” she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that from Feb. 1, 2021, the Dubai Airport Authority planned to close its facilities to others airlines flying passengers from Nigeria except they fly Emirates airlines.
The rapid response antigen test can only be done in Lagos and Abuja with Dubai bound passengers from the two Nigerian cities, paying N36,800 and N25, 800 respectively, in addition to the PCR test from approved laboratories by Nigerian Center for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Presidential Task force.