Emirates Arline has indefinitely suspended flight operations to Nigeria due to its inability to send home funds trapped in Nigeria.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the airline on Thursday.
According to the statement, the suspension became effective on October 29, 2022. This would not be the first time the airline will suspend operations in Nigeria as it had in August 2022 stopped flights to Nigeria over its $85 million revenue.
It follows the inability of foreign airlines to send home their revenue of over $500 million.
Despite Nigeria’s foreign exchange crisis which has made it hard for revenue to be repatriated, the federal government released $265 million to foreign airlines operating in the country to offset outstanding ticket sales.
Further interventions were forthcoming from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as they also released $120 million to the foreign carriers to balance part of the trapped funds by ending of October.
But in its statement announcing the suspension of both inbound and outbound flight operations, Emirates stated that nothing has been done despite the promises by the CBN.
The statement read, “Emirates has continued to actively seek a solution for the repatriation of the remainder of its blocked funds in Nigeria. We were encouraged by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s efforts in reviewing our request, and considered that this critical issue would be swiftly resolved with the subsequent clearance of our remaining funds.
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“However, Emirates has yet to receive an allocation of our blocked funds to be repatriated. Without the timely repatriation of the funds and a mechanism in place to ensure that future repatriation of Emirates’ funds do not accumulate in any way, the backlog will continue to grow, and we simply cannot meet our operational costs nor maintain the commercial viability of our operations in Nigeria.
“We have officially communicated our position and attended multiple hearings with the Nigerian government, and we have made our proposed approach clear to alleviate this untenable situation, including a plan for the progressive release of our funds. This included the repatriation and receipt of at least 80 percent of our remaining blocked funds by the end of October 2022, in addition to providing a guaranteed mechanism to avoid future repatriation accumulation challenges and delays.
“Under these extraordinary circumstances Emirates had no option but to suspend flights to/from Nigeria from 29 October 2022 to mitigate against further losses moving forward.
“We hope to reach a mutual resolution with the Nigerian government around the repatriation of blocked funds to enable the resumption of operations and connectivity for travellers and businesses.”
The minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, had last week said Nigeria will not be bullied by threats by foreign carriers to suspend operations in Nigeria.
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