Since the suspension of flight operations between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), some Nigerians have been exploring other options of travelling to Dubai or any of the United Arab Emirates states.
Nigerians, who can no longer wait for Dubai to lift its flight ban, are now seeking other alternative by first going to Ghana, and then connect flights to Dubai.
For some of these travellers who either have pressing needs ranging from medicals, job opportunities, school admission, to tourists and those whose visas are about to expire, travelling through Accra is now a preferred option.
When the UAE banned flights from Nigeria, they said passengers that had been in Nigeria for more than 14 days would not be allowed to enter the UAE.
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So, in order to enter the UAE, travellers who have been to Nigeria for more than 14 days would be forced to stay outside Nigeria for more than 14 days. Staying in Ghana for 14 days is an easy option but not cost-effective as travellers would have to spend more money on accommodation and feeding in Ghana.
In a bid to escape 14 days quarantine, Nigerians now travel to Ghana using the Nigerian-ECOWAS passports, and exit Ghana using their Nigerian passport with stamps indicating the date they left Ghana only.
Ikechi Uko, travel expert, states that a lot of people now go to Dubai through Ghana, Ethiopia, Nairobi and most times stay 14 days in these countries and travel to Dubai from there.
According to Uko, businesses that would have been for Nigeria are now being diverted to other countries as a result of the flight ban.
“There are dangers in Nigerians travelling through other countries. You have a passport for your own security. Your passport identifies you and where you have been to. So, if anything happens to you while you are in another country, how do you explain it?
“It is good business for the airlines that are flying people from Ghana and it is good for the hotels in Ghana or wherever they are using. All people need to do is to show that they have not been in Nigeria for 14 days,” he explains.
On the other hand, Qatar is doubling their flights to Lagos, thereby exploiting the woes of Emirates.
Starting from July 1, Qatar service will be operated by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner with 22 seats in business class and 232 seats in economy.
With the addition of Côte d’Ivoire on June 16 as the fourth new African destination since the start of the pandemic, Qatar Airways currently operates over 100 weekly flights to 27 destinations in Africa.
The airline also operates three weekly flights from Abuja, connecting more passengers from Nigeria to the airline’s rapidly expanding network to more than 140 destinations.
UAE had in February 2021 banned transit flights to Dubai, insisting all passengers conduct a rapid COVID-19 test and obtain a negative result within four hours of their departure time. The Nigerian government resisted, insisting that Emirates suspend its requirement for the Rapid Antigen Test, and this led to a stalemate.
Following this, only Emirates flew passengers into Nigeria but refused to fly passengers out because of its new COVID-19 test guidelines. Nigeria responded by suspending Emirates from flying into the country.
Since February, several airlines including Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Egypt Air, Etihad, Rwanda and Air Peace airlines, which fly directly or connect passengers to Dubai, have lost billions of naira as a result of the stalemate between the two countries.
Prior to the ban, Dubai was one of the top destinations visited by Nigerians, but many Nigerians are now opting for Cairo, Egypt, and Turkey for summer holidays and tourism.