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Emirates Airlines Suspends Flights To Nigeria Indefinitely

Despite assurances by the government that the blocked funds of Emirates Dubai based Emirates Airlines would be released, the airline on Thursday said it had yet to receive any allocation for the fund from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Airline in a statement released on Thursday said it would suspend operations from October 29 over its inability to meet its operational costs.

The airline said it has communicated its position to the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Emirates had in August suspended flights to Nigeria over its $85m blocked revenue.

In August, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said foreign airlines have not been unable to repatriate $464m from Nigeria.

Following the controversy, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele in September subsequently promised to release $265m to foreign airlines to offset part of the trapped funds.

But the airline in the statement said it had yet to receive its fund and will have to suspend flights to and from Nigeria to mitigate against further losses moving forward.

The statement read in part, “Emirates has continued to actively seek a solution for the repatriation of the remainder of its blocked funds in Nigeria.

“We were encouraged by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s efforts of reviewing our request, and considered that this critical issue would be swiftly resolved with the subsequent clearance of our remaining funds.

“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 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.”

Emirates stated that this new decision became necessary as it has attended multiple hearings with the Nigerian government and officially communicated its position.

The airline also stated that it has made its proposed approach clear to alleviate the untenable situation, including a plan for the progressive release of funds.

This approach includes the repatriation and receipt of at least 80 percent of its remaining blocked funds by the end of October 2022, in addition to providing a guaranteed mechanism to avoid future repatriation accumulation challenges and delays.

“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 mitigate against further losses moving forward.

“We hope to reach a mutual resolution with the Nigerian government around the repatriation of blocked funds to enable the resumption of operations and connectivity for travelers and businesses,” the airline said.

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