Emirates airline suspends all flights to Nigeria as it struggles to repatriate funds
Emirates announced in a statement Thursday that it has put a hold on flight operations in and out of Nigeria due to its inability to repatriate funds from the West African country.
The airline said there has been “no progress” in reaching Nigerian authorities for a solution.
The decision comes after Emirates announced last month of flights it would reduce flights to Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, the carrier said it could not access its funds amounting to $85 million withheld in the country. The stuck funds had been rising by over $10 million every month, the airline said in a letter addressed to Nigeria’s Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika.
Currency in freefall
Sirika told CNN the trapped funds will be released as this was not the first time Nigeria was holding onto huge amounts of revenue belonging to foreign air carriers.
“In the past, Nigeria has demonstrated the capacity and the willingness and fairness to resolve this type of issue. It happened when we took over power in 2015: There were lots of blocked funds, about $600 million at that time. It was at a time when the country was in a recession and there were dwindling revenues coming to the country, yet we honored our obligation to pay out all those blocked funds,” Sirika told CNN Thursday.
“Unfortunately, due to many factors and reasons, the monies piled back up. Government is working hard to ensure that these monies are released, not only for Emirates but all airlines affected,” Sirika added.
Sirika added that “mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that this does not occur in the future.”
Nigeria is one of Africa’s biggest markets for international carriers.