• Chidozie Uzoezie

Emirates Backtracks, Reinstates Flights to Nigeria

In what would be a cheering news to Air travellers and holidaymakers, Emirates has made a U-turn and will reinstate scheduled flight operations to Nigeria on 11 September, 2022.

This development is coming less than two weeks after the airline had, on 18 August, announced that it would suspend flights operations to Nigeria with effect from 1 September, 2022. The airline cited trapped funds as the reason for the suspension.

The reinstatement of scheduled flights to Nigeria follows the release a special forex intervention of $265 million to foreign airlines by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to enable them repatriate trapped funds that accrued from ticket sales in Nigeria.

Emirates will return to Nigeria initially with four-weekly flights to Lagos, operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The flights will be operated using a Boeing 777-300ER. Frequency will increase after 30 September.

In a letter addressed to Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation in July, Emirates said it had $ 85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria as of July, 2022. It said the figure had been rising by more than $10 million every month, while the operational costs of its 11 weekly flights to Lagos and 5 to Abuja continued to rise.

In addition to an acute shortage of aviation fuel, Nigeria has been grappling with very high forex exchange rates, with $1 exchanging for as high as N700. It's estimated that $600 million of more than 20 foreign airlines has been trapped in Nigeria in 2021 alone.

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