By Vincent Ikuomola, Abuja
European Union (EU) has urged Nigerian government to have a rethink over restrictions placed on KLM, Lufthansa and Air France.
The request was made on Friday during a meeting between the Presidential TaskForce on COVID-19 and European Union ambassadors.
Nigeria had announced restrictions on some foreign airlines ahead of 5th September 2020 resumption of international flights.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Angolan TAG, Air Namibia and Royal Air Maroc were not approved to operate flights into Nigeria.
He said only approved airlines would be permitted into the Nigeria’s airspace.
He listed British Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian, AWA and Middle East Airlines as airlines permitted into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyema, led Nigeria delegation to the meeting, which includes Minister of Health, Dr. Osage Ehanire; Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunmibe Mamora; Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika and National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu
The EU delegation, which includes three Ambassadors was led by EU Head of Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Ketil Karlsen.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Karlsen said: “The availability of flights from Europe to Nigeria and vice versa is very essential.
“And that is why we have had this discussion today and we have appealed to our partners on Nigeria side to reconsider the possibility of having again some of the larger carriers in from Europe flying with Nigeria.
“Nigeria was never picked out, there was never a ban against flights coming from Nigeria to Europe. There was never as I see it a retaliation or reciprocity at play here.
“Merely what Europe has done is exactly the same that Nigeria has done. Merely looking at very carefully what essential group of people should come in, in time of crisis and how can we provide protocol to handle that in time of testing and isolation if needed.
“We are very hopeful that following this discussion, we would be able to take yet another step in the direction of normalising the availability of flights with Europe and of course stand ready to provide all the information that you need to take your decision in this sense.”
Germany Ambassador to Nigeria, Birgitt Ory said EU is looking forward to European Union carriers resumption of flight to Nigeria.
“Nigeria is an important partner for us and it would be wonderful to see this in Nigeria happening again.”
Onyeama described the meeting as very fruitful and productive.
He said: “Our positions are not cast in stone, they are reviewable and we have taken on board some useful information and statistic today, and we would also be reviewing on the assess that we will give to European carriers and other carriers for that matter coming into Nigeria air space.”
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