FG reciprocates, bans EU flights from Nigeria,impounds Angolan passenger plane in Lagos

Nigeria will enforce the principle of reciprocity in granting permission to airlines to resume operations into the country as it opens its airspace, the Federal Government said on Thursday.

According to the government, what this means is that only airlines from countries that allow flights from Nigeria will be allowed to fly into and out of Nigeria.

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It specifically stated that airlines from the European Union would not be allowed into Nigeria as the EU had recently banned flights and visitors from Nigeria.

The Council of the European Union had opened its borders to 15 countries, excluding Nigeria.

According to information obtained from the EU website at the time, Nigeria was still not a part of the countries from where visitors were allowed into Europe.

Speaking at Thursday’s briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said Nigeria’s position was informed by the ban placed by some countries on flights from Nigeria.

The minister, who was represented by the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Capt. Musa Nuhu, argued that the decision was taken in the interest of Nigerians.

He said, “On the list of countries (that are banned), we are working on the comprehensive list, but the main one that came up is when the EU opened their borders effective 1st July, Nigeria was among the list of 54 countries that were not allowed to enter the EU.

“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.”

Sirika also stated that airlines would be informed on arrangements that had been put in place to ensure that the resumption of flights were hitch-free.

He 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.

The protocols, according to him, would be made public in due course.

Sirika also stated that inbound international passengers would be limited to 1,280.

He said only this number would be allowed to fly into the Lagos and Abuja airports once international flights resume on August 29, 2020.

Meanwhile,the Federal Government has impounded a Boeing 777 jumbo plane belonging to the Angolan government at the Lagos airport for flying illegally into Nigeria.

The government grounded the passengers-laden plane and subsequently impounded it, shortly after touching down in the country on Wednesday afternoon.

The jumbo jet belongs to Angola Airlines, a state-owned airline and flag carrier of the Angolan government.

It was learnt that the plane flew into the country without the requisite and mandatory approvals from the Nigerian authorities.

Aviation sources said the jet which was flown into the country purportedly to evacuate stranded Angolan citizens in Nigeria was found to be carrying fee-paying passenger.

However, the number of passengers on board the over 300-seater plane could not be ascertained as of the time of filing this report on Thursday night.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has commenced further investigation into the matter, it was learnt.

The Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, Mr. James Odaudu, could not be reached for comments as of the time of filing this report. Several calls made to his line did not connect. Also, a response to a text message sent to his line was still being awaited.

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