An aviation analyst and former commandant of Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Group Capt. John Ojikutu, on Tuesday, said Nigeria can reciprocate the flight ban imposed on it by the United Kingdom.
He noted that diplomatic relations are guided by the principle of reciprocity.
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Ojikutu spoke against the backdrop of the recent flight ban imposed on Nigeria by the UK over the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
The ban took effect on Monday and it has thrown travel agents and airlines into confusion as they begin to count their losses.
Findings by Daily Trust indicate that many passengers have started contacting their tour operators for refunds while terminating their trips.
Airlines operating the Lagos-London or Abuja-London flights would be losing hundreds of millions daily as a result of the development.
A travel agent who spoke with our correspondent yesterday said the travel ban would hurt aviation business, noting that London is a topmost destination for holidays, businesses and education.
But Ojikutu, while giving an insight into the development, noted that the UK did not ban Nigerian Airlines but Nigerians, adding, “diplomatic relations are guided by the principle of reciprocity.
“Nigeria can ban UK nationals but not British carriers. As was pointed out, it is the choice of the airlines to make. Virgin Atlantic may give up temporarily but BA most probably wouldn’t due to its historical experience. I may be wrong but I will be surprised if it did.
“What economic sense would it make for BA to be coming to Nigeria under its COVID-19 rules when 90% of its inbound and outbound passengers are Nigerians?
“We have more Nigerians going to the UK on BA and VA; we were looking more inward then COVID-19, Delta variant and now Omicron? Carrying more Nigerians outbound Nigeria and the inbound UK means more of their monies getting trapped in our CBN in addition to over $300m yet to be transferred before the Omicron.
“The war now by my understanding is more economic and diplomatic than the Omicron variants restrictions.”
Meanwhile, British Airways (BA) has explained details of the travel restrictions emanating from the United Kingdom government’s red listing of Nigeria recently.
A statement by the airline said all flights from Lagos to London Heathrow have been retimed due to restrictions at London Heathrow to support arrivals from a red-list country.
It added that all customers travelling from Nigeria must follow the UK government’s rules on arrival from a red list country and have a negative PCR test result within 48 hours prior their departure from Nigeria.
“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.”