Nigeria: Emirates Cries Out Over $85m Trapped Funds

Emirates Airlines Friday expressed displeasure over the delay in clearing its outstanding funds trapped in Nigeria.

The Middle East carrier and one of the major foreign airlines operating to Nigeria had in November last year suspended flights to Nigeria indefinitely, citing the inability to repatriate its trapped funds amounting to $85m at the time.

The airline had claimed that its share of the $260m approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is yet to be released.

However, Friday the airline said five months after it suspended flight operations “to and from Nigeria,” it has seen “little progress in the clearing of our backlog of funds.”

Emirates’ statement sent to our correspondent through its media consultant in Nigeria came a few days after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) submitted an official letter to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika seeking his intervention on the trapped funds, which have now increased to over $740million, the highest airline funds to be trapped in a single country in the world.

Sirika had assured IATA representing global airlines that he would take up the matter with President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, Emirates yesterday said it had a substantial balance of blocked funds that have yet to be repatriated, saying, “the progressive clearing of our backlog remains beset with constant delays.”

“We acknowledge that the wider aviation industry and the local value chain it supports in Nigeria face a similar market reality. However, unless there is a committed strategy by the local authorities to deliver concrete action, air services for travellers, for businesses seeking global market opportunities and for investments–all supported through air transport and critical to Nigeria’s economic recovery – will continue to dwindle,” the statement noted in part.

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