Again, Emirates halts flight operations into Nigeria over trapped funds

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Emirates Airlines had first suspended operations in August 2022, as international airlines struggled to repatriate more than $500 million in revenues.

Emirates plane used to illustrate the story

Emirates Airlines has for the second time this year suspended flight operations in Nigeria over the inability to withdraw its funds from the Nigerian banking system.

Making this disclosure in a statement on Thursday, the airline announced that the suspension became effective from October 29, 2022.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), had earlier committed to releasing an additional $120 million to international carriers by the end of October to help offset some of the stuck funds after several engagements with international airlines.

Explaining the reason for its fresh actions, Emirates lamented that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led regime had failed to meet the promises made to the international carriers despite promises made.

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,” the statement read.

“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,” it added.

Emirates Airlines had first suspended operations in August 2022, as international airlines struggled to repatriate more than $500 million in revenues.

The federal government had released $265 million to domestic airlines to cover unpaid ticket sales, despite the fact that Nigeria’s foreign exchange crisis has made it challenging for the monies to be repatriated.

Their fresh action comes as the value of the country’s currency continues to drastically drop in the wake of the CBN’s plan to redesign the country’s currency.

On Wednesday, it was reported that the country’s currency dropped further against the dollar exchanging for a record N855 per dollar.

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