Again, Emirates suspends flight operations to Nigeria

EMIRATES Airlines has suspended flight operations to and from Nigeria effective October 29, 2022.




     

     

    A statement by the airline forwarded to The ICIR said that it had tried to receive the remainder of its blocked funds in Nigeria but could not access it till date, even after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) promised to intervene.

    The statement read in part, “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 of reviewing our request, and considered that this critical issue would be swiftly resolved with the subsequent clearance of our remaining funds.

    “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.”

    Emirates had on August 18, 2022, announced a stoppage of all its flights from Nigeria with effect from September 1, 2022, due to challenges it said it was experiencing in repatriating its funds.

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    According to the airline, it had unsuccessfully been attempting to repatriate the sum of $85 million of ticket sales it alleged was stuck in Nigeria.

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    It also reduced the number of its weekly flights from Dubai to Lagos from 11 to seven due to the same issue.
    File photo: Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor.
    On September 1, 2022, the CBN allocated the sum of $265 million to airlines operating in the country to settle outstanding ticket sales monies.

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    The foreign carrier then promised to resume flight operations from September 11, 2022.
    However, this latest statement from the airline said since the airline cut its flight frequencies till today November 3, 2022, it was yet to receive 80 per cent of its funds, hence the decision to stop flights between Dubai and Nigeria altogether.
    “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% 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,” the statement said

    Nonetheless, the airline hoped to reach a mutual resolution with the Nigerian government on the repatriation of the blocked funds to enable the resumption of flight operations.

    Experienced Business reporter seeking the truth and upholding justice. Covered capital markets, aviation, maritime, road and rail, as well as economy. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @theminentmuyiwa and on Instagram @Hollumuyiwah.

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