Emirates Airlines Vows to Never Return to Nigeria Over Indebtedness to Foreign Airlines

Emirates Airlines Vows to Never Return to Nigeria Over Indebtedness to Foreign Airlines

  • Emirates says it will not resume operations in Nigeria unless the country pays its trapped funds
  • The airline stated that Nigeria owes it about $85 million in ticket sales and is yet to pay
  • Also, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said Nigeria is the most indebted country to foreign airlines in the world

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Emirates Airlines says a large part of its revenue trapped in Nigeria is yet to be.

According to the airline's statement released on Friday, March 17, 2023, the Nigerian government called for a committed strategy to enable foreign airlines operating in Nigeria to recover their funds.

Foreign airlines, Emirates Airlines
Emirates Airlines rejects return to Nigeria over debt Credit: JACK GUEZ / Contributor
Source: Getty Images

Emirates states reason for flight suspension in Nigeria

In November last year, Emirates suspended operations in Nigeria over the country's indebtedness to foreign airlines, which was over $600 million at the time.

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Emirates says about $85 million of its funds still needs to be repatriated from Nigeria as the country says it is due to scarcity of foreign exchange.

Emirates' suspension is the second time it has halted flights to the West African country over unremitted funds.

The airline said it had halted operations in the West African country in the last five months and has yet to see much progress from Nigeria in clearing its backlog of debts.

TheCable reports that Emirates said about 50% of the funds approved by Nigeria for clearing are still pending repatriation, despite the $265 million the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released to foreign airlines operating in Nigeria to settle outstanding ticket sales.

Emirates said:

"Today, around 50 percent of the amount approved for clearing within our backlog is still overdue for repatriation.

"We have made many concerted efforts to enable a swift return to Nigeria. We proposed several solutions and measures to recover our funds and engaged in dialogue with government stakeholders and industry bodies.

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"Regretfully and despite many media reports of public assurances made at the highest levels, solutions continue to be stalled.
"We remain committed to finding a mutual resolution with the Nigerian government and Central Bank to repatriate the rest of our blocked funds swiftly and provide a roadmap that includes firm measures to prevent future repatriation accumulation challenges and delays. We call on them to work with us, hand in hand, to ensure Nigerian travelers and businesses have unfettered connectivity and access to our global network."

Nigeria is the world's most indebted country to foreign airlines

Emirates' statement comes as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that foreign airlines trapped funds in Nigeria have risen to over $743.7 million.

Vanguard reports that IATA disclosed this in a letter to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

Per the letter, signed by IATA's Area Manager for West and Central Africa, Samson Fatokun, foreign airlines blocked funds increased from $549 million in December 2022 and $662 million in January to $743.7 million.

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The association said Nigeria had had the highest debts to foreign airlines worldwide for over a year.

He appealed to Sirika to intervene in repatriating the trapped funds and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to clear all trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines before he leaves office on May 29, 2023.

Emirates Airline announces suspension of all flights from Nigeria Sept 1, blames CBN

Legit.ng reported that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier, Emirates Airlines, has announced it will suspend all its flight operations to Nigeria starting September 1, 2022.

Emirates disclosed this in a statement on Thursday, 18 August citing the inability to repatriate its earnings in foreign exchange from Nigeria.

Last month, Emirates asked Hadi Sirika, aviation minister, to support repatriating its revenue, amounting to $85 million.

Source: Legit.ng

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