There was was considerable anxiety at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos (MMIA) on Sunday following British Airways’ cancellation of the Lagos-London Heathrow, United Kingdom bound aircraft.
Despite the airline’s claim that the cancellation was due to operational concerns, TVC News learned that the development could be linked to the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Following the identification of 21 Omicron cases in the country, the United Kingdom placed Nigeria on red alert, which went into force at 4.00am on Monday
Surprisingly, the airline did not operate its inbound aircraft from London to Lagos, raising the probability that the UK’s red alert signal was not completely activated.
Sources at the airport linked it to the implementation of the travel ban imposed on countries considered red flags to the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
With 134 Omicron cases recorded in the UK, UK and Irish nationals and residents travelling from Nigeria will be required to isolate for 10 days in a Government-approved quarantine facility and receive two negative PCR tests as part of additional precautionary measures against the Omicron variant beginning at 4 am today, Monday.
Several passengers who had thronged the airport for check-in procedures were turned back as there were few staffers of the airline to attend to their inquiry.
Airport sources further said “the situation was to get a clearer picture of what’s happening around the Omicron variant of a thing. Don’t forget that Nigeria has been added to the travel red alert. So, I have the feeling that the airline wants to get a clearer picture from the UK authority.”
However, according to several airline employees who offered information to visibly upset passengers, the trip was simply rescheduled for the early hours of Monday.
In an email sent to passengers on Sunday, the airline stated, “We would like to inform you of a change in the departure time of your trip to London Heathrow.” We had to change our schedule due to operational considerations. Your flight will now depart Lagos a day later than planned.”