Emirates Airlines Ceases Flights to Nigeria Beginning in September
Following reports of trapped funds in Nigeria, Emirates Airlines, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has announced that it will suspend flights into and out of the country beginning September 1, 2022.
Emirates Airlines stated that the suspension was necessary due to the airline’s inability to repatriate funds from Nigeria. The airline had $85 million trapped within Nigeria as of July 2022 which they have tried to repatriate from the Nigerian government. In June, the International Air Transport Association stated that the nation was holding $450 million in revenue earned by international carriers in operation in Nigeria.
International carriers operating in Nigeria have regularly expressed dissatisfaction with their inability to remit funds to their home countries.
They have expressed concern over this matter with officials from the Federal Ministry of Aviation and the Finance Ministry on numerous occasions. Emirates Airlines has stated that they had not made progress in their attempts to engage in dialogues with Nigerian authorities.
Blocked funds belonging to these airlines have reached almost $600 million as a result of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s inability to make US dollars accessible for repatriation.
Emirates Airlines notably restricted its flight operations to Nigeria last month to better manage its business in the country.
Emirates Airlines announced on Thursday, August 19th, that it “has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.”
They added, “Regrettably, there has been no progress. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective September 1, 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.”
“We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused our consumers; nonetheless, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.”
The airline did, however, state that if there are any positive developments regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria in the next few days, the airline would reconsider its decision.
The global carrier noted, “We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travelers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai and to our broader network of over 130 destinations.”
In 2016, a similar restriction forced airlines to reduce flights to Nigeria, with one carrier stopping service altogether. United Airlines and Iberia reduced service to the nation and while United Airlines began flying to and from Nigeria in 2021, Iberia still hasn’t resumed its flights.
In May 2022, rising fuel costs led to several domestic flights being suspended or canceled.