By Ayoola Olaitan
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has assured passengers whose flights were cancelled or delayed by Emirates and KLM airlines they would be compensated.
The airlines have over the last two suspended airlifting of passengers from Nigeria.
Following the unavailability of logistics by the Nigerian authorities to do the test as requested by both airlines, the airlines refused to fly passengers out of Nigeria but they have continually brought in passengers into the country.
The airlines recently introduced a new measure as part of moves to curb the importation of coronavirus in which they had mandated intending passengers to do a rapid diagnostic test four hours before boarding.
NCAA, however, frowned at the new measure which led to the initial 72-hours flight suspension that Emirates got but was later lifted which continued to raise concern.
The Director General of NCAA, Captain Musa Nuhu, yesterday in Abuja during the weekly briefing by the members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, said talks were ongoing with the airlines and the countries.
According to him, “We have been having some issues with two airlines; namely Emirates and KLM who have not been flying passengers out of Nigeria for two weeks. They have only been flying passengers into Nigeria.
“Shortly before this, they requested to conduct rapid test four hours before departure and at that point in time, we were not ready with the logistics for the request from the countries.
The Director General argued that shortly after the airlines had requested for the rapid test, they stopped and for a couple of days, passengers are having difficult times as cancellation of their flight came at short notice.
He went further to say, “The Minister of Aviation and NCAA had discussions with the airlines, state authorities concerning the unfavourable treatment of Nigerians and they are certainly going to compensate all passengers whose flight were cancelled or delayed with short notice.”
“Discussion is ongoing with the airlines, state authorities and both ministry of foreign affairs and NCAA on ways to resolve the issues.
“We will go back to the authorities of this country and also the airlines with a deadline to give further information to help the PTF resolve this issue once and for all in the very near future.
“So, once we get the information, then the PTF will take its own decision on what actions to take on the issue of not flying passengers out of Nigeria.”
He also said countries where Ebola cases have been reported have been put on alert and advised on safety measures.
Meanwhile, speaking with our correspondent, the Secretary General of the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative and Chief Executive Officer, Centurion Securities, Group Captain John Ojikutu (Rtd), argued that Emirates suspension and cancellations of flights operation in Nigeria is the best they could not to import the virus into their country.
He posits that UAE has lots of things to contend with, looking at the population of the country compared to visitors. UAE is one of the highest countries with air passenger’s traffic.
Ojikutu laments about the high level of certificate forgery, “some Nigerians travel with fake test certificate that is purchased for N50,000, despite IATA arguments about passengers importing the virus”
“There are some IATA reports that when you read them outside this country about Nigeria, it is worrisome”he noted.