Emirates Airlines, flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), says it will reduce its flight operations to Nigeria over the inability to repatriate about $85 million in revenue.
Last month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Nigeria was withholding revenue worth about $450 million earned by foreign airlines operating in the country.
The airline said this in a letter addressed to Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, dated July 22, 2020, and signed by Sheik Majid Al Mualla, Emirates airline’s divisional senior vice-president (DSVP), international affairs.
Emirates said the planned reductions in its operations in Nigeria would take effect from August 15, 2022.
It added that flights would be reduced from 11 per week to 7 per week at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA).
“We have had no choice but to take this action, to mitigate the continued losses Emirates is experiencing as a result of funds being blocked in Nigeria,” it said.
“As of July 2022, Emirates has US$ 85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria. This figure has been rising by more than $US 10 million every month, as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and 5 to Abuja continue to accumulate.”
It said the funds are urgently needed to meet its operational costs and maintain the commercial viability of its services to Nigeria.
“We simply cannot continue to operate at the current level in the face of mounting losses, especially in the challenging post-COVID-19 climate.
Emirates did try to stem the losses by proposing to pay for fuel in Nigeria in Nairas, which would have at least reduced one element of our ongoing costs, however, this request was denied by the supplier,” the statement reads.
“This means that not only are Emirates’ revenues accumulating, we also have to send hard currency into Nigeria to sustain our own operation. Meanwhile, our revenues are out of reach, and not even earning credit interest.