NIGERIAN aviation authorities have lifted the embargo on four major international airlines thus permitting them to fly into the country as the nation opens up its airspace as it eases the lockdown introduced in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Like most other nations on earth, Nigeria closed its airspace and airports in March in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in March. However, as the spread of the virus eased, domestic flights resumed at all Nigerian airports in July while international flights resumed at the Lagos and Abuja airports in September.
When Nigeria lifted the embargo in international flights on September 5, only nine airlines will be allowed to fly into the country including Middle East Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Qatar, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Air Peace, Virgin Atlantic, Asky Airlines, Africa World Airways, Air Cote-d’ Ivoire, Kenya Airways, Egypt Air and Turkish Airlines. Others including Air France, KLM, Etihad, RwandAir, Air Namibia, Royal Air Maroc, Lufthansa and TAAG Angola Airlines were denied approval to commence flight operations because they do not allow flights in from Nigeria.
After intense negotiations, however, the government has decided to allow Air France, Lufthansa, KLM and Qatar Airways to resume international flight operations into the country. Senator Hadi Sirika, Nigeria’s aviation minister, said Air France and KLM airlines were not granted approval for flight operations initially because tourist visa holders are not allowed entry in the airlines’ originating countries.
Faced with a loss of business, the affected airlines have entered into negotiations with the Nigerian government and the two sides have now reached an agreement to enable operations resume. Senator Sirika added that the aviation ministry is also working with the health ministry, the Coalition against Covid-19 and the presidential task force to ensure that Nigeria’s three other airports are opened.
He said: “We are working with ministry of health, Cacovid and the presidential task force to open Kano, Port Harcourt and possibly Enugu airports before the end of the year. Also Lufthansa, Air France/KLM has been given go-ahead to resume, while Qatar Airways is approved to start Abuja.”