Emirates Airlines, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier, begins the suspension of flight to Nigerian routes today September 1, 2022, owing to its trapped funds, which is estimated to be around $85 million.
However, it said in an email directed to travel agencies in Nigeria that it would return to the Nigerian routes, Lagos and Abuja on September 11, 2022.
The suspension window is estimated to be ten days. The decision to suspend Nigerian routes was coming less than a week the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released the sum of $265 million to foreign airlines in the country to settle outstanding ticket sales out of the $464 million owed them.
The airline had earlier in July, cut its weekly frequencies to Lagos from 11 to seven, while its three weekly flights to Abuja remained.
In a statement it forwarded to Tits clients in Nigeria, the airline had said no progress had been made in getting its funds out of Nigeria, hence the decision.
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“Regrettably, there has been no progress. 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 apologised to its customers, noting that the situation was beyond its control and promised to help affected customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.
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A letter earlier addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Emirates stated; “As of July 2022, Emirates has $85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria. This figure has been rising by more than $10 million every month as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and 5 to Abuja continue to accumulate.”
It was gathered that the funds were beginning to affect the carrier’s operating costs, as well as its commercial viability.