The diplomatic crisis between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has taken a new dimension as the Middle East country has reportedly barred other airlines from conveying Nigerian passengers to the country.
Nigerians heading for Dubai have used other airlines since the almost one year diplomatic face-off between EmiRates airlines and the Nigerian Government began.
Among these airlines are Egypt Air, Air France, KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, Rwanda Air, Etihad. But on Monday, Daily Trust gathered that many Nigerian passengers who boarded Ethiopian Airlines heading for Dubai were sent off the plane.
The actions happened hours after the restrictions imposed on Emirates by the Federal Government took effect. The Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) had withdrawn the winter schedule earlier approved for Emirates to operate 21 weekly flights to Nigeria.
The government instead gave Emirates one weekly slot in Abuja, the nation’s capital, in a tit-for-tat measure after the Sharjah Airport Authorities reportedly denied Air Peace the three slots it requested.
Following the development, Emirates had suspended all its flights to Nigeria pending the resolution of the issues between Nigeria and the UAE.
But things worsened after Dubai-bound passengers using other airlines were reportedly barred.
A source said the de-boarding of Nigerian passengers was on the order of the UAE authorities.
“UAE says no entry for Nigerian passengers from any airline. Ethiopian just offloaded all passengers heading to Dubai. We are voiding Dubai bound tickets,” the source told our correspondent.
There has been no official communication from the UAE authorities on the latest development.
Daily Trust had earlier reported how many Nigerian passengers were stranded over the Emirates logjam.
A passenger, who was to travel via an Emirates flight on Monday, had to explore an alternative airline, paying over N500,000 to travel via Lufthansa.
Among those stranded are businessmen, students and others said to be going for medical reasons.
“I had to book another flight on Lufthansa travelling through Brazil just to connect Dubai because the various restrictions across the world have made travel very difficult for everybody because you have to travel via a destination, not on the red list.”
“But I must be in Dubai by all means and that has cost me an extra N500,000. How many people can afford this,” a student who preferred anonymity, said.