Emirates suspends all flights to Nigeria over trapped funds

Shutterstock / Maxim Grohotov

Emirates will suspend all flights to and from Nigeria from September 1, 2022, following difficulties in repatriating funds from ticket sales. 

Despite efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities to help find a viable solution, the Gulf carrier stated that there had been no progress towards a positive outcome.  

Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective September 1, 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market,” the airline said in a statement on August 18, 2022

In a letter addressed to Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sitika, dated July 22, 2022, the airline revealed that it was losing $10 million every month in operational costs to and from Nigeria. 

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers; however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stake,” the airline explained in its statement addressing the halting of its services to Nigeria. 

The Gulf carrier highlighted that it was still “keen” on operating services to Nigeria, should the situation change for the better. 

“Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked finds in Nigeria, we will of course, re‑evaluate our decision,” the airline added. 

Turmoil over $85 million in blocked funds 

Emirates’ decision follows an earlier announcement when the airline said it would reduce flights to destinations in Nigeria from August 15, 2022, due to trapped ticket revenues amounting to over $85m. 

 According to an IATA report, as of May 2022, a total of $1.6 billion in funds was blocked by 20 countries across the globe, of which 67% was attributed to some African countries. 

An estimate of $1 billion is tied up in 12 African countries, with Nigeria alone “holding back” $450 million, the largest amount withheld by any African country, according to IATA’s report. 

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