The Federal Government has denied some airlines approval to resume operations as Nigeria resumes international flights on Saturday.
The international airlines exempted from operations included:Air France, KLM, Etihad, Rwandair, Lufthansa, TAAG Angola Airlines, Air Namibia, and Royal Air Maroc.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika also said that some airlines were denied approval because international flights were yet to resume in their countries.
He identified those in this group as: Cape Verde and South African airlines.
The airlines given licence to operate include: Middle-East, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Egyptair, Air Peace, Virgin Atlantic, Asky, Africa World Airways (AWA), Air Cote-d’Ivoire, Kenya Airways, Emirate and Turkish airlines.
They are expected to operate within COVID-19 protocols.
Speaking in Abuja on Thursday at the briefing by members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Sirika also issued further guidelines for arriving and departing international passengers.
On other criteria used for approving and denying the airlines, the Minister said: “We used the foreign carrier operator permit, which is the requirement by our laws, guidelines by COVID-19 Presidential Task Force and other guidelines including restrictions that came from other countries which will affect our own operations here at home.
“Airfrance and Lufthansa were not approved. The reason is that Swiss visas owners are not allowed entry and the same reason for KLM.
“In making decisions as to who comes, in the wisdom of the PTF and the ministry of Aviation, we understood that the government has done very well with a low rate of fatality. If you look at other countries, for example, they recorded lots of fatalities.
“We are over 200million people and we are still talking about 1000 deaths. I think we have done very well to fight this disease, so I think we don’t have any reason whatsoever to disallow Nigerians to travel.
“What we have done is to review the issues from other countries and what they have done to us. In the case of Britain, they said when we come, they will quarantine us and so, when they come to us too, we will quarantine them.
“For Ethiopian airlines, most of the passengers are not from Addis-Ababa, so we said when they come in too, we will subject them to the protocol of COVID-19. So, they are bringing in only people who are negative.”
The Minister also hinted passengers who fail to present a valid COVID-19 test or refuse to go for a repeat test may be placed on a travel watch list for six months.
On what is expected of the passengers, he said: “All intending passengers must have tested negative for COVID-19 in the country of departure before boarding.
“The test must be within four days and we prefer 72 hours pre-boarding. Tests done more than four days before boarding are not valid and passengers will not be allowed to board.
“All intending passengers are required to register via a national payment portal online; Nigeria international travel portal and the website is http://nitp.ncdc.gov.ng and they are expected to pay for a second test to be done upon arrival in Nigeria.
“Once payment is received, passengers will receive an email from the laboratory of their choice for a repeat test seven days after arrival. Passengers will be allowed to choose the sample collection centre and appointment time and date for sample collection centres.”
Other requirements include: “Airlines that board passengers without a negative COVID-19 test or test result more than four days will be sanctioned as follows:
“Non-Nigerians may be refused a return to a point of embarkation at the cost of the airline.
“So, the airline will bear the cost of taking those people back to where they come from once they are boarded without a negative PCR test result or more than four days prior to boarding.
“Nigerians will be allowed entry but subjected to a mandatory quarantine of 8-14days depending on the result of the COVID-19 test is done upon arrival.
“So, passengers will be forced into quarantine at a facility approved by the government at the cost of the passenger.
“Airlines will be fined $3500 per passenger for failure to comply with the pre-boarding requirements. This is our law.
“On arriving Nigeria, passengers will be allowed to go through the port health screening and proceed on seven days self-isolation and observe strict physical and social distancing