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Nigeria, EU in closed door meeting over Air space restrictions

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EU urges Nigeria to ‘ve rethink over ban on KIM, Lufthansa, Air France

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 the European Union ambassadors.

Nigeria had announced restrictions on some foreign airlines ahead of 5th September 2020 resumption of international flights into the country.
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said that 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 led Nigeria delegation to the meeting which include
MInister of Health, Dr. Osage Ehanire, Minister of State, Health, Dr. Olorunmibe Mamora, Minister of Aviation, Hadis Sirika and National Coordinator, Sani Aliyu
The EU delegation which include three Ambassadors were 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 carrier in from Europe flying with Nigeria. Nigeria was never picked out, there was never a ban against flight 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 normalizing the availability of flight with Europe and of course stand ready to provide all the information that you need to take your decision in this sense. “

He also spoke about the excellent relationship between EU and Nigeria which has led to so many intervention programmes in the country. EU, he said stand in history as an excellent sample of that particular friendship.
He also spoke about other collaboration between Nigeria and EU.
The 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.”
She was also hopeful that both Nigeria, Nigerians and European countries will get this positive sign very soon.
The French Ambassador, also spoke about the role Air France played during the evacuation of stranded Nigerians abroad.
He therefore said it has been very frustrating and surprising that there is no direct flight from Nigeria to France.
He said no where in the world where EU is having assess issue with its important partner as we have with Nigeria.

On his part, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said the meeting was in respect of issue of assess of European carrier to Nigeria and also on the issue of assess of passengers from Nigeria to European airspace.
He also described the meeting as very fruitful and productive on the question.
“What we are very keen on, on our side, is to know exactly, what applies to Nigerians. I think there is always obviously some misinformation and it is not all together very clear. So what we have asked the European side is to let us have is thw detailed information on Nigerians that can assess European space from Nigeria. Which categories of Nigerians can in this present time and with the release and restriction announced by the EU are affected. Who are the people considered as essential, on essential travels and what chances does the average Nigerians have to visit European country from here.
“So it is to give us that information so that every Nigerian will be in the position to know wether they can assess European space irrespective of the fact wether they have visa or no visa. There are lots of Nigerians who have long time visa and clearly not all of them are able or have the right now as thinhs stands to enter Europe. So we want to have that information. So we want to have that information . That is really what we are targeting. We also decided and pointed out that must as the European Union reviews its policy every two weeks, that we are also doing that every two weeks and the next one will be at the end of this month. And also we look at these things during PTF meetings.
“So 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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