The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has welcomed a decision by the Nigerian government to release $265 million in revenues that foreign airlines have been barred from removing from Nigeria.
The dispute over the blocked funds has resulted in the Dubai-based Emirates completely suspending its operations in Africa’s largest economy from September 1.
On Friday, the Central Bank of Nigeria said it would release $265 million to airlines in order to settle outstanding ticket sales. IATA estimates that Nigeria has racked up more than $464 million in blocked airline funds since July and that more airlines could pull out of the market if funds weren’t released.
Emirates did not immediately react to the news that its blocked revenues could now be repatriated. The airline claims Nigeria has held onto more than $84 million revenues which it needs to make its operation in the country economically viable.
The airline said it had tried “every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution”.
“Regrettably there has been no progress,” a spokesperson explained as the airline temporarily but indefinitely suspended its operations to and from Nigeria.
On Friday, British Airways was forced to dismiss rumours that it was also planning to suspend operations in Nigeria over the same issue. A spokesperson for the airline, which has served Nigeria for 85 years, said British Airways remained “fully committed” to Nigeria.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.