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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Many passengers to UK, other countries stranded at Nigeria airports as a result of Omicron travel ban

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Aftermath of the spreading of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, many international travelers are stranded in both Lagos and Abuja international airports as the government of United kingdom, US and Canada placed ban on travelers from Nigeria.

On Sunday, many UK- bound passengers were stranded at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja and the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Shortly after the flight cancellation, the British High Commission announced its decision to put on hold visitor visa applications from red list countries, including Nigeria.

The commission however, explained that from 4 am today, only British and Irish nationals and residents travelling from Nigeria would be allowed into the country.

The commission also said they must isolate in a government-managed quarantine hotel.

Though the Nigerian government expressed displeasure at its red listing by the United Kingdom government, this has not change the ordeal of intending travelers whose flights were cancelled by the airlines due to travel ban imposed by various countries on passagers from Nigeria.

Canada also introduced new guidelines, including the rejection of results of molecular COVID-19 tests done in Nigeria and nine other African countries.

The U.S. said air passengers boarding a flight from a foreign country to any of its airports must get a COVID-19 viral test, regardless of vaccination status or citizenship, no more than one day before travel.

Virgin and British Airways are the biggest airlines carrying passengers on the Nigeria-London route. They carry on daily basis between 250 to 300 passengers daily.

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A return ticket on any of the airline costs about N1 million, especially at this period of the year when not a few Nigerians had planned to reunite with their loved ones during the yuletide.

The flight suspension will lead to huge economic loss to the airlines should UK, US and other countries sustain the restriction on passangers from Nigeria.

Nigeria, which had recorded three Omicron cases as of Sunday, had on Friday unveiled modified travel guidelines. The United Kingdom has recorded 86  cases of the new variant while in the US, 15 states are said to have also been hit.

Although, British Airways (BA) did not operate its inbound flight from London to Lagos, it announced yesterday the cancellation of flights from Lagos into London Heathrow, citing operational reasons.

Sources at the MMIA said that the cancellation of flight by the British Airways had to do with the implementation of the travel ban by UK authorities.

Many passengers who had turned up at the airport for check-in procedures were disappointed as the BA counters were virtually empty.

Some workers informed the distraught passengers that the flight into the UK had been rescheduled.

Some passengers who sought clarification for the sudden twist of events were handed flyers signed by the BA Customer Service Duty Manager, Nwanorue Alexander.

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