Emirates Airlines says it has suspended flights to Nigeria. It said the measure started on October 29 and blamed its inability to repatriate its revenue from the country.
The airline disclosed this in a statement issued by the Airlines Public Relations Manager, Rula Tadroson, on Thursday. The airline said it has communicated its position to the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“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.
Emirates lamented that it has not repatriated its blocked funds from the country.
“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,” the airline said.
Emirates said: “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, the Airline said, includes the repatriation and receipt of at least 80 per cent of our remaining blocked funds by the end of October, in addition to providing a guaranteed mechanism to avoid future repatriation accumulation challenges and delays.
The move by the airline came less than three months after it suspended its flights to the country in August over the inability to repatriate $85 million in revenue.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also lamented that foreign airlines have not been unable to repatriate $464 million from Nigeria.
Subsequently, Emirates reinstated its flight in September after the CBN announced that it released $265 million to airlines operating in the country to settle outstanding-trapped funds from ticket sales.
Recently, Nigeria’s foreign exchange problem worsened amidst depletion of its foreign reserves, soaring demand and ongoing redesigning of the country’s local currency which has further exacerbated the devaluation of the Naira at both the official and unauthorised markets respectively.
Domestic airline operators in the country are still battling with the rising price of aviation fuel, coupled with the lingering difficulty in access to the forex which has pushed all the airline fares to remain skywards.
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