The United States Mission in Nigeria says it has helped 997 Americans return home to reunite with family and friends since the repatriation exercise began.
The US Mission said from April 6 to 8, three US Consulate-organised chartered flights operated by Delta Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines repatriated 850 American citizens from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos to the United States, in addition to the 147 who departed from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on April 4.
“These repatriation flights were made possible by a tremendous effort by the US Consulate team and great cooperation from Nigerian partners,” the consulate said in a statement on Thursday.
It added that the State Department’s effort to bring Americans home during the COVID-19 pandemic required a remarkable diplomatic and logistical effort.
“As of April 8, 2020, the Department of State has coordinated the repatriation of 50,339 Americans from 94 countries since January 29, 2020,” the consulate said.
The United States Consul General, Claire Pierangelo, was quoted as saying that in times of emergency, the United States Department of State had no greater priority than the safety and security of US citizens overseas.
Meanwhile, aviation unions and representatives of aviation workers have threatened to mobilise action against the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, over the continued detention of Caverton Helicopters pilots who were arrested in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
In a statement jointly signed by the National Union of Air Transport Employees, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers and Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, the aviation workers described the detention as unwarranted and unlawful.
“The flight was a special operation approved by all relevant government agencies, including the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority in full compliance with the provisions of the Federal Government order on restrictions of movement following the COVID-19 pandemic,” the unions said.
While demanding the immediate and unconditional release from incarceration of the pilots and oil and gas workers, the unions said there should also be an unqualified public apology to the pilots, passengers and the companies involved.
The Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association, Flight Crew Association of Nigeria and NAAPE also said they would stop all civil flight operations into the state at short notice, if the state failed to resolve the matter expeditiously.