Sirika: Ban On Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, Others Not Political

Federal Government on Monday explained that its decision to ban some international airlines from coming into the country is not politically-motivated.

According to the Federal Government, its decision is health-related and based on its capacity to handle a certain number of passengers to curb the import of coronavirus into the country.

Minister of Aviation Hadi Sirika, who spoke during the briefing by members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID- 19 in Abuja, said: “It is the decision of the task force and we take our job very seriously under the chairmanship of the SGF and the National Coordinator. We have been here since March and we are taking healthcare as a serious matter. There is nothing political about it. No decision we have taken is diplomatically-related or for tit-for-tat diplomatic relationship, far from that.

“Every decision we have taken is based on certain and concrete variables. So, regarding who comes in and who is not approved, we all know that we have a challenge of the number of passengers that we can process in our airports given the resources; both human and material that we have to fight

“If there are no challenges, we would have opened the airports and everybody will come in, but we have a certain number that we can process in these our airports and that is why we are opening Lagos and Abuja and based on that, we have to calculate based on facts, available number, protocols, and facilitation to decide the number of passengers we can handle, from where and how?

He added: “So, the airlines were contacted and so it has nothing to do with countries per se and that is why for instance, Emirate was approved but Etihad from the same country was denied. So, it has nothing to do with countries.

“Lufthansa, Air France, Air Namibia and RwandAir were not approved based on these principles. So, we will maintain the number that we can handle in our airports and we will keep it to those who can take non-resident visas, tourists and others in and out of the country. The decision is collective by the PTF.

“Discussions is ongoing and all Nigerian Lufthansa management was in my office and we discussed at length and I believe they understood. Air France, KLM was also in my office and they understood our position.”

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