• Chidozie Uzoezie

Breaking News: Emirates Suspends Flight Operations to Nigeria

Less than three weeks after announcing the reduction of flight frequencies to Nigeria due to unremitted funds, Emirates has announced that it will stop flights into and out of Nigeria with effect from 1 September, 2022.

The airline disclosed this development in a statement issued on Thursday.

The statement read ”Emirates 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.

”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 regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.

”Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, we will of course re-evaluate our decision. We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much needed connectivity for Nigerian travellers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai and to our broader network of over 130 destinations.”

Recall that Emirates had announced that it would, with effect from 15 August 2022, reduce flight frequency to Lagos from 11 per week to 7 per week. The airline said it had no choice but to take this action to mitigate the continued losses it was experiencing as a result of funds being blocked in Nigeria.

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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