The travel bans imposed by Canada and the United Kingdom on Nigeria passengers have hit foreign airlines operating in the country, with many of the carriers now perfecting plans to cut flights into Nigeria in coming days or weeks, PUNCH reports.
Aside from Canada and the UK, Singapore and Indonesia had also imposed travel ban on travelers from Nigeria, following the outbreak of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Findings from airline officials revealed that majority of the foreign carriers were already making necessary arrangements to reduce significantly their flight frequencies into Nigeria.
The development, according to airline officials, follows massive cancellations of flight reservations by intending passengers who had confirmed ticket bookings for travels in December, January and beyond.
Specifically, they said the travel bans imposed by Canada and the United Kingdom, which are two main destinations popular with Nigeria passengers, were impacting adversely on their flight reservations for the next one to three months.
“Canada and the United Kingdom are popular destinations for Nigeria travelers. These are key markets for us as international airlines operating in Nigeria. Hundreds of Nigerian passengers fly in and out of these two countries on a daily basis. So, the ban by the two countries is affecting our numbers significantly,” an official of KLM, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said.
It was learnt that the European carriers were hit most by the travel ban.
Also, an official of AirFrance who confided in one of our correspondents, disclosed that many of the carriers might reduce their frequencies from daily flights to twice or three times a week.
“Imagine! We used to have about 80 passengers going to London on our Lagos-Paris flight. On Monday when the ban commenced, passengers transiting through Charles de Gaulle to London were just 10 in number. This is bad for business. We will definitely cut flights,” the official added.
Moreover, another official said BA flew very scanty number of passengers from Lagos airport on Monday when the ban commenced, adding that flights might be cancelled outright if the situation persisted.
“I learnt BA left Lagos airport with less than 50 passengers. How can a jumbo plane of such go with that kind scanty number of passengers?” the official queried.
Meanwhile, British Airways has informed travel agencies in Nigeria about a change in its flight schedules on the Nigerian route, following the ban on Nigeria by the UK government.
British Airways plane which used to arrive at the Lagos airport around 6pm and depart 11pm on daily basis will now arrive early in the morning to depart a few hours later.
The development is to allow the passengers arriving in the UK to have access to quarantine facilities, according to officials.
BA made this known in a notice, titled, “Restrictions for travel from Nigeria to the UK,” which was sent to the local travel agencies.
This came as it was gathered in Abuja on Monday that most passengers of the airline stayed away from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, due to the restrictions by the carrier and the travel ban on Nigeria travelers by the UK government.
The notice by British Airways to travel agencies read in part, “As a result of the UK government placing Nigeria on to the red list, we continue to closely monitor the situation and adjust our schedule accordingly.
“All flights from Lagos to London Heathrow have been re-timed. This is due to restrictions at London Heathrow to support arrivals from a red-list country.
“All customers travelling from Nigeria must follow the UK government’s rules on arrivals from a red-list country and have a negative PCR test result within the 48 hours prior to their departure from Nigeria.”
It added, “Only British or Irish nationals or customers who have residence rights in the UK will be allowed to enter the UK, where they will be required to quarantine in a government facility.”
The airline further explained that arrivals from Nigeria would land at Heathrow Terminal 5 where any customer whose journey terminates, would be taken on a bus to Terminal 4 for processing.
This, it said, would be prior to being escorted to their pre-purchased quarantine hotel, adding that the customer’s bags would also be taken directly to Terminal 4.
It stressed that any customer wishing to transfer must follow the rules for their final destination.