Emirates Airlines has announced the suspension of its flight operations to Nigeria, starting September 1, 2022.
The flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) disclosed this in a statement on Thursday, citing the inability to repatriate its earnings in foreign exchange from Nigeria.
Last month, Emirates asked Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, to support the repatriation of its revenue, amounting to $85 million. Nigeria is facing a forex exchange crisis and this has also affected the nation’s local currency — Naira — to depreciate against the dollar.
The airline said the suspension would “limit further losses and reduce the impact on its operational costs that continue to accumulate in the Nigerian market”.
“Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective 1 September 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market,” the airline said.
“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 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.”
In May, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) lamented the inability of foreign airlines to repatriate about $450 million in earnings
Of the amount, IATA said Nigeria alone is holding about $450 million due to a shortfall of foreign exchange (FX) and a dwindling reserve.
Sam Adurogboye, spokesperson for Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), in a chat with TheCable, pleaded with the government to help the airlines repatriate the funds.