• Chidozie Uzoezie

Emirates Suspends Flights to Nigeria Indefinitely

It appears that the forex tussle between Emirates and the Nigerian government is taking a dramatic turn as the Emirati airline has again suspended flights to Nigeria indefinitely over its inability to repatriate its funds from Nigeria. The suspension took effect from 29 October, 2022.

In a statement on Thursday, Emirates acknowledged the efforts being made by the Central Bank of Nigeria to intervene, but said it could no longer cope with the situation as the funds keep accumulating.

“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.

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% 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 travellers and businesses.”, the statement said.

This is the second time Emirates is suspending flights to Nigeria in just two months, due to unremitted funds. The first was on 1 September, 2022. However, it reinstated flights to Nigeria on 11 September after the Central Bank of Nigeria released a special forex intervention of $265 million to foreign airlines.

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