The decision to suspend the daily B737-800 service yesterday was taken due to an ongoing and protracted dispute with Port Health Authorities over Yellow Fever documentation being presented to authorities at OR Tambo by Nigerian and West African passengers, many of whom were being detained and had been refused entry in to the country in recent months.
Arik Air has taken the decision to re-commence with operations over the weekend to protect its passengers in the interim period until the matter is resolved. However, any passenger’s travelling between Nigeria and South Africa will be screened by Arik Air personnel prior to acceptance on the flight at Murtala Muhammed Airport. Those passengers that have a NEW Yellow Fever vaccination card issued in Nigeria and who have not used that card previously (ie are travelling to South Africa for the first time) will be denied boarding on today’s (3rd March) and tomorrow’s (4th March) Lagos-Johannesburg outbound flight until the matter is resolved at government level where a meeting has been set for Monday 5th March to discuss the new procedural guidelines for passengers originating from the West African region and the presentation of Yellow Fever immunisation documentation.
Dr Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, Group CEO/ President of Arik Air, commented on the re-commencement of services:
“Whilst we are not satisfied with the continued, protracted state of affairs regarding this this policy, we cannot allow our passengers to suffer the inconvenience of cancelled flights over the weekend. The respective governments have agreed to meet on Monday morning (5th March) to discuss this situation and we hope there will be a resolution so we can put this unfortunate mess behind us and get back to business as normal. There are no assurances on what the policy will be but Arik will make a definitive decision on flight operations between Nigeria and South Africa after this meeting.
“Unfortunately there will still be a number of passengers affected on tonight and tomorrow’s flight but we are going to proceed with flights and are contacting and informing as many of those potentially affected passengers about the situation and offering the opportunity to rebook at a time once the matter has been agreeable resolved.”