NIGERIA is to ban flights from across the European Union (EU) in retaliation of a similar measure taken by the community to close its airspace to visitors and aircrafts from Nigeria as part of measures to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the lifting of the coronavirus restrictions, the EU has allowed in flights from several countries but Nigeria is not one of those nations. It is perceived that Nigeria is not doing enough to prevent the spread of the virus and there are not adequate safeguards in place to deal with any fresh outbreak.
With Nigeria expected to open up her airspace to international travel on August 29, ministers are drawing up guidelines that will govern such flights. Under the terms of any deal, Nigeria will enforce the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to airlines to resume operations into the country.
According to the Nigerian government, what this means is that only airlines from countries that allow flights from Nigeria will be allowed to fly into and out of the country. Ministers specifically stated that airlines from the EU would not be allowed into Nigeria as the community had recently banned flights and visitors from the country.
On July 2, the Council of the European Union opened its borders to 15 countries, excluding Nigeria. As a result, Senator Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s aviation minister, said the country’s position was informed by the ban placed by some countries on flights from Nigeria.
He said: “We are working on the comprehensive list but the main one that came up is when the EU opened their borders effective July 1, Nigeria was among the list of 54 countries that were not allowed to enter. To my understanding, as the situation changes, they are going to look at the list and change it but so far, we don’t have any contrary information to that first one that Nigeria is banned from going to the EU.
“So, as we open our airspace, we are going to apply the issue of reciprocity to those (EU) countries.”Senator Sirika stated that for now, only a few flights per day would be permitted, adding that they would operate as test runs of the protocols put in place to ensure the safe return to international operations.
He pointed out that inbound international passengers would be limited to 1,280. In addition, the minister said only this number would be allowed to fly into the Lagos and Abuja airports once international flights resume on August 29.