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The Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, one of the two airports at which international operations resumed on 29 August /Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Lufthansa, Air France/KLM to resume flights to Nigeria

After several months of flight suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic, German Lufthansa, Air France and the Royal KLM will be offering flights to Lagos and Abuja again starting on 7 December. 

Since the beginning of the global health crisis, no airline has operated direct flights between Nigeria and the European Union, as the Nigerian government had imposed a reciprocal flight ban on airlines from countries that banned flights from Nigeria.

However, this will finally change now because Nigeria has lifted the flight ban. Lufthansa, Air France and KLM and a number of other European airlines will therefore soon be able to fly to Abuja and Lagos for the first time in months, according to media reports.

Nigeria lifted the ban placed on Lufthansa and Air France/KLM on operating international flights into Nigeria last week. Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, made the announcement in a tweet on Tuesday (17 November). He added that Qatar Airways had also been granted approval to resume flights to Abuja. 

The tweet read, “We are working with Ministry of Health, CACOVID & The PTF to open Kano, Port Harcourt & possibly Enugu airports before the end of the year. Also Lufthansa, Air France/KLM have been given go-ahead to resume. Qatar Airways is approved to start Abuja. Thank you for your patience.”

After the minister’s statement, Air France and KLM immediately announced their return to Nigeria. “Great news! Starting from December 2020, we will be flying from Lagos and Abuja to and from Paris with further transfers to other destinations,” Air France said. KLM also followed suit with a similar announcement. “After several months of flight disruptions, German Lufthansa can finally fly to Nigeria again. The airline will offer flights to Lagos and Aduja again on 7 December,” Reisetopia, an online travel news site, reported on Sunday.

Nigeria announced a limited reopening of international air routes already on 5 September. However, as the borders of the European Union were still closed, there were no direct flights from Nigeria to any EU country. Among others, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, Etihad Airways, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, Air Namibia, TAAG Angola Airlines and South African Airways were banned from flying to Lagos or Abuja airports, in line with the principle of reciprocity since the home countries of the airlines had also not been opened to flights from Nigeria. 

While European airlines are struggling with a drastic slump in bookings, the lifting of the flight bans in Nigeria is good news for European airlines, which can now resume flight operations to Lagos and Abuja. Of course, the resumption of flight operations is being handled rather cautiously for the time being, as the airline can only still hope that demand will grow with uncertainties about how the corona crisis may still develop.

With the exception of minors under 10 years of age, all travellers to Nigeria must present a negative PCR test for COVID-19 on arrival in Nigeria, which must have been carried out about five days before the date of departure and translated into English. But that is not all. Travellers must undergo a seven-day quarantine at home or hotel on arrival, after which they must undergo a second PCR test in an approved laboratory. The quarantine cannot be ended until the second test is proven to be negative.

Kola Tella & Sola Jolaoso

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