Come September 1, Emirates Airlines says it will suspend all flights to Nigeria due to its inability to repatriate revenue from the country.
In a statement by the Airlines’ Public Relations Manager, Rula Tadros on Thursday, it said the “difficult decision” was taken to limit “further losses and impact on our operational costs” that continue to accumulate in the market.
“Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective 1 September 2022,” the airline said.
It said, “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,” the Airline added.
Emirates said it will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.
The airline said should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, it will re-evaluate its 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,” the Airline said.
The move by the airline comes less than three weeks after it announced in a letter addressed to Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, that it will reduce the number of flights to Nigeria from August 15 due to its failure to repatriate $85 million revenue from the country.
Emirates stated in the letter that the figure has been rising by more than $10 million every month, while operational costs of 11 weekly flights to Lagos and five to Abuja continue to accumulate.
Reacting, a Special Assistant to Aviation Minister, James Odaudu, said, “the ministry of Aviation has no role to play in the airlines trapped funds in the country.”
“It is the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria that needs to sort them out,” he said.
Within the past weeks and months, Nigeria’s foreign exchange problem worsened amidst depletion of its foreign reserves and soaring demand, which has further exacerbated the decline of the Naira at both the official and unauthorised markets respectively.
Meanwhile, domestic airline operators in the country are still battling with the rising price of aviation fuel, which has pushed all the airlines to increase their base fares by over 100 per cent within the last six months.
Last month, during an emergency meeting with airline operators, Mr Sirika said, “there are no immediate solutions” to the lingering crisis in the sector because what ails the industry is a global problem.
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