Trapped funds: Emirates suspends flights to Nigeria indefinitely

Emirates Airlines has suspended flights to Nigeria effective from October 29 over inability to repatriate its revenue from the country.

The airline said in a statement on Thursday by its spokesman Rula Tadroson that the move has been communicated to the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Under these extraordinary circumstances, Emirates had no option but to suspend flights to/from Nigeria from 29 October 2022 to mitigate against further losses moving forward,” the statement said.

Emirates lamented that it has not repatriated its blocked funds from the country.

“Without the timely repatriation of the funds and a mechanism in place to ensure that future repatriation of Emirates’ funds do not accumulate in any way, the backlog will continue to grow, and we simply cannot meet our operational costs nor maintain the commercial viability of our operations in Nigeria,” the airline said.

The international carrier added that it has made its position clear on resolving the matter which includes the repatriation and receipt of at least 80 per cent of its remaining blocked funds by the end of October, and also that the Federal Government should provide a guaranteed mechanism to avoid future repatriation accumulation challenges and delays.

The move by the airline came less than three months after it suspended its flights to Nigeria in August over the inability to repatriate $85 million in revenue.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also lamented that foreign airlines have not been unable to repatriate $464 million from Nigeria.