Emirates Airlines suspends flight operations to Nigeria over trapped $85m revenue

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The United Arab Emirates Airlines on Thursday announced the suspension of flight operations to Nigeria over its inability to repatriate funds trapped in the country.

Uba Group

The airline said this in a statement that the suspension took effect from October 29, 2022.

The latest suspension of flight operations to Nigeria is the second time the airline will be announcing the suspension of flights to the West African country over its $85 million revenue rapped in the country.

The Airline had in August 2022 announced plans to suspend operations in the country over the trapped revenue in Nigeria, but called it off after the Central Bank of Nigeria said it had released $265 million into the system to offset part of the trapped funds.

Foreign airlines have been struggling to repatriate their earnings of more than $500 million.

After several engagements with stakeholders, the CBN promised to release an additional $120 million to the international carriers to offset part of the trapped funds by the end of October.

However, in the statement, Emirates said that despite promises of allocation by CBN, nothing has been done.

It, therefore, decided to suspend both inbound and outbound Nigerian flight operations.

“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,” the statement reads.

“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 travelers and businesses.”

Last week, Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, said that Nigeria will not succumb to threats by foreign airlines to shut down operations in Nigeria.