On Saturday, the Nigerian federal government will repatriate close to 270 of its citizens from the United States. The first batch of Nigerian residents will fly from Newark on Ethiopian Airlines‘ ET8509, operated by one of the airline’s 787 Dreamliners, one day earlier than was initially planned.
Flight ET8509 from EWR to ABV
On Saturday the 9th of May, flight ET8509, an Ethiopian Airlines 787 Dreamliner, will take off from Newark Liberty International Airport at 19:15 local time. Having traversed the Atlantic, it is estimated to land 11 hours later, at 11:15 local time on Sunday the 10th of May. It will arrive at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York informed prospective passengers that this, the first in a series of repatriation flights organized by the Nigerian government, would leave one day before schedule.
Still seats available
The flight was originally intended to be operated as ET509, and take off on Sunday, but has for undisclosed reasons been moved up by a day. Passengers already booked on the previously scheduled departure were automatically transferred to the new slot. Bookings are handled through Ethiopian Airlines’ website, but travelers had to register with Nigerian diplomatic mission to the United States.
The consulate said it would take 270 passengers on the flight. This means no social distancing would be possible as that is the full number of seats, including business class, on Ethiopian’s 787 cabin configuration.
Over 700 Nigerians have registered to be repatriated from the US. However, when Simple Flying checked just before publication, there were still seats available. The cost of these flights was close to $2,000 in economy, which may have something to do with it.
Hand sanitizers and masks obligatory
All passengers are required to be in possession of hand sanitizer, to be applied before boarding and frequently throughout the flight. They must also wear a face mask for the entire duration of the journey and on arrival at the airport in Abuja.
Moreover, the consulate advised travelers to arrive at the airport four hours before departure, as temperature screenings would be performed in accordance with what it calls “Pre-Departure Infection Prevention Control (lPC) measures.”
Upon arrival in Abuja, all the returnees will be transported by the government to designated quarantine centers for 14 days. They will there be held under observation to monitor their health status before being allowed to move freely.
No stranger to repatriation flights
The Star Alliance carrier is no stranger to airlifting stranded travelers home at the behest of other governments. Just last week, Ethiopian Airlines operated a repatriation flight from Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, to Toronto, Canada, with over 200 Canadian passengers. This was only the last in a long line of the airline’s flights to have repatriated over 1,000 Canadian passengers from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
Have you or anyone you know been on a repatriation flight? Do you think governments of respective countries should help pay for the expenses, or should the airlines operating them be allowed to set their own price? Let us know in the comments.