Emirates Airline, On Thursday, announced the suspension of all flights in and out of Nigeria due to unpaid $85million trapped in the country and unavailability of foreign exchange.
In a press statement made available to LEADERSHIP, the airline said it will stop its operations indefinitely starting from September 1, 2022 till after it was able to repatriate its trapped funds in Nigeria.
It could be recalled that Emirates airline had earlier cut down on its weekly number of flights into Lagos from 11 to seven over the US$85million awaiting repatriation from Nigeria.
The airline said the figure has been rising by more than $US10 million every month, as the ongoing operational costs of its 11 weekly flights to Lagos and five to Abuja continued to accumulate.
It, however, said that the trapped funds were urgently needed to meet 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 Naira, which would have at least reduced one element of our ongoing costs, however this request was denied by the supplier,” the airline had said.
However, with no considerable improvement and headway in repatriating the trapped funds, the airline has consequently announced suspension of its operations in Nigeria indefinitely.
The statement reads, “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. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective 1st September 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.
“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 will of course re-evaluate our 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.”