Emirates Airlines yesterday announced the indefinitely suspension of flight operations to Nigeria over its inability to repatriate blocked funds.
The airline, in a statement, said the suspension took effect from October 29, saying that its position had been communicated to the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In August, the airline suspended flights to Nigeria over its $85 million blocked revenue. In August, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said foreign airlines had not been able to repatriate $464 million from Nigeria.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele subsequently promised to release $265 million to foreign airlines to offset part of the trapped funds.
The statement reads: “However, Emirates has yet to receive an allocation of our blocked funds to be repatriated.
“Without the timely repatriation of the funds and a mechanism in place to ensure that future repatriation of Emirates’ funds does 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.
“We have officially communicated our position and attended multiple hearings with the Nigerian government, and we have made our proposed approach clear to alleviate this untenable situation, including a plan for the progressive release of our funds.
“This included the repatriation and receipt of at least 80 per cent of our remaining blocked funds by the end of October 2022, in addition to providing a guaranteed mechanism to avoid future repatriation accumulation challenges and delays.”
“Under these extraordinary circumstances Emirates had no option but to suspend flights to/from Nigeria from 29 October 2022 to guard against further losses moving forward.”