Emirates reduces flights to Nigeria over trapped $85m revenue


Emirates Airlines has announced plans to reduce its flights to Nigeria from August 15, 2022, due to its inability to repatriate trapped revenue amounting to $85 million in the country.

 The airline said it has no choice, but to reduce the flights from Dubai to Lagos from 11 to seven per week to mitigate the continued losses it is experiencing as a result of the situation.

 Emirates made this known in a letter dated July 22, 2022, signed by the Divisional Senior Vice President (DSVP), International Affairs, Sheikh Majid Mualla and addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

 “Emirates will be forced to reduce flights from Dubai to Lagos from 11 per week to seven per week. We have had no choice, but to take this action to mitigate the continued losses Emirates is experiencing as a result of funds being blocked in Nigeria.

“As of July 2022, Emirates had $85 million funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria. This figure has been rising by over $10 million monthly, as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and five to Abuja continue to accumulate,” the letter reads.

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 It said the funds were urgently needed to meet its operational costs and maintain the commercial viability of its services to Nigeria, adding that it could not continue to operate at the current level with mounting losses, especially in the challenging post-COVID-19 pandemic climate.

 Emirates further explained that it tried to stem the losses by proposing to pay for fuel in Nigeria in naira, which would have at least reduced the costs, but the suppliers denied the request.

 “This means that not only are Emirates’ revenues accumulating, but we also have to send dollars to Nigeria to sustain our operations, while our revenues are out of reach and not earning any credit interest.

“This decision was not taken lightly. Indeed, we have reached out to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to find a solution to the issue. Our Senior Vice-President met the Deputy Governor of the CBN in May and followed up on the meeting through a letter in June.

 “However, no positive response was received. Meetings were also held with Emirates’ own bank in Nigeria and in collaboration with the IATA to discuss improving FX allocation, but with limited success,” it stated.

 Emirates disclosed that despite several efforts, the situation continued to deteriorate, and is now in the unfortunate position of having to cut flights, to mitigate further losses going forward.

  “While we appreciate that this issue is primarily a financial one, any support you could kindly provide would be warmly welcomed by Emirates. We are confident that your valuable involvement will make a real difference in improving this very difficult situation,” the letter added.

 The airlines further noted that if there is any positive development where it can have access to funds soon, it will re-evaluate the decision and revert to normal operations.

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