Emirates, Delta Airlines, 4 Others Set to Resume, Expand Operations in Nigeria as FG Clears Debt

Emirates, Delta Airlines, 4 Others Set to Resume, Expand Operations in Nigeria as FG Clears Debt

  • Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria are preparing to expand after the federal government settled most of the debts it owed them
  • Experts said the airlines would love to continue business in the Nigerian market because it has a lot of potential in the space
  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) hailed FG for freeing up 98% of airlines' funds that were held in the nation

Legit.ng journalist Zainab Iwayemi has over three years of experience covering the Economy, Technology, and Capital Market.

Following the federal government's release of 98% of their blocked fund, foreign airlines operating in Nigeria are preparing to expand their operations.

Airlines set to resume, expand operation
Certain airlines contemplate resuming flights, while others intend to expand their frequency and routes. Photo Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial, Johannes Mann
Source: Getty Images

Some airlines are considering resuming flights, while others intend to expand their frequency and routes.

Airlines set to expand

According to information obtained by BusinessDay, on December 1, Delta Airlines will start operating daily flights from New York-JFK to Lagos.

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Emirates will start flying to Nigeria again on October 1, 2024. With a daily schedule between Lagos and Dubai, the airline will provide passengers with more options and connectivity while travelling from and through Nigeria's largest metropolis.

Adnan Kazim, Emirates' Deputy President and Chief Commercial Officer, said:

“We are excited to resume our services to Nigeria. The Lagos-Dubai service has traditionally been popular with customers in Nigeria and we hope to reconnect leisure and business travellers to Dubai and onwards to our network of over 140 destinations.
“We thank the Nigerian government for their partnership and support in re-establishing this route, and we look forward to welcoming passengers back onboard,”

Kenya Airways plans to increase the number of daily flights to Lagos from seven to ten in the next few weeks.

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Italian company Neos S.p.A. has applied for a flight permit from the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and is interested in starting flying operations from Nigeria.

The Italian airline said:

“The airline has been issued Foreign Carrier’s Operation Permit (FCOP) and once the process is completed, NEO SPA will commence operations into Nigeria."

Morocco's official carrier, Royal Air Maroc, began offering direct service from Abuja to Casablanca, the country's thriving commercial hub, last week. This is in addition to the Lagos location from which it now runs.

Recently, British Airways remodelled and opened an opulent lounge at the airport in Lagos. SDS Lounge Group will represent British Airways in operating the lounge.

FG releases airlines' blocked funds

The federal government was recently praised by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for freeing up 98% of airline money held in the nation but could not be returned by the carriers.

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The director-general of IATA, Willie Wals,h said the amount of money blocked in Nigeria at its height in June 2023 was $850 million, which had a significant impact on the finances and operations of the nation's airlines.

Susan Akporaiye, former president of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), said the clearing of trapped funds has been going on for over two months. During this time, airlines have been planning to increase frequencies and routes because they know Nigeria is a lucrative market.

Akporaiye said:

“The airlines know that Nigeria is a big market. This was why many of them did not go during the trapped funds era. They stayed. Nigeria continues to be a very profitable market. Airlines have relaxed a lot of rules and regulations and are willing to launch back and begin to make money. Better things await the sector. The airlines see i,t and they know it."

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Air Peace, others to fly US routes

Legit..ng reported that Nigerian airlines, such as Air Peace and United Nigeria Airlines, are preparing to start flights to the United States in the near future.

This initiative follows the Federal Government's approval and increased support to help domestic airlines expand their international services.

The airline later hinted that it plans to start operating flights from Abuja to New York and Houston by the end of 2024 following approvals by the aviation regulatory agency.

Source: Legit.ng

Zainab Iwayemi avatar

Zainab Iwayemi (Business Editor) Zainab Iwayemi is a business journalist with over 5 years experience reporting activities in the stock market, tech, insurance, banking, and oil and gas sectors. She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.sc) degree in Sociology from the University of Ilorin, Kwara State. Before Legit.ng, she worked as a financial analyst at Nairametrics where she was rewarded for outstanding performance. She can be reached via zainab.iwayemi@corp.legit.ng