The Federal Government cannot force Emirates Airlines to operate or cease from operating in Nigeria as far as the international carrier abides by civil aviation regulations in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Aviation said on Monday.
Emirates had on Monday reintroduced travel ban placed on Nigerian travellers.
Reacting to the latest action taken by the airline, the ministry described the carrier as a business entity that was at liberty to decide on its mode of operations.
The Director, Public Affairs, FMA, James Odaudu, told one of our correspondents that the Nigerian government had not banned Emirates, adding that the United Arab Emirates, owner of the international carrier, had also not banned Nigerians from entering the UAE.
He said, “Emirates Airlines is a private business. Whatever decision they take is an economic decision. First and foremost, Nigeria did not ban Emirates. Nigeria only rejected their conditions for Nigerians to fly to the UAE.
“So if on their own they’ve decided to start flying into Nigeria, fine. And if on their own they say they are not ready to resume flights yet, the Nigerian government cannot force them to start operations or cease operations.
“Except if what they do goes against the Nigerian government policies and regulations.”
Odaudu added, “I will say it again, Emirates is a private business and they are at liberty to take any economic decision that does not go against our policies.
“Also, it is important to state that the UAE has not banned Nigerians from entering that country, although Emirates belongs to them.”
The United Arab Emirates airline, which had earlier announced that the ban on Nigeria and South Africa had been lifted, said on Monday that passengers at Lagos and Abuja airports would be rejected.
The airline had in February announced that travelers from Nigeria were expected to take the rapid antigen test before departure.
The Federal Government rejected the condition, saying the infrastructure for rapid test was not available.
In a statement on Monday, the Emirates said passengers from the Lagos and Abuja airports were suspended with effect from June 21 until further notice.
“Customers travelling to and from Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted for travel. Customers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not permitted to board from any other point to the UAE.
“We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking.
“Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow.”
Reacting to the ban, Travel expert, Olubiyi Oluwajoba, said Nigerians had been passing through Ghana and Cotonou to get into Dubai.