Emirates is to partially reinstate flights to Nigeria after the country’s central bank agreed to hand over a portion of more than US $85 million in blocked funds that the Dubai-based airline has been barred from taking out of Nigeria.
On Thursday, the airline went ahead with its threat to completely suspend its operations in Nigeria because of its ongoing financial dispute with the Nigerian government.
Emirates now says it plans to partially return to Nigeria from September 11 by reinstating daily flights to and from Lagos. This was the earliest date possible to reinstate flights, an Emirates spokesperson said because time was needed to “coordinate the smooth and safe resumption of operations”.
“Emirates welcomes the Central Bank of Nigeria’s move to release a portion of our blocked funds, and we continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to ensure the repatriation of our outstanding and future funds may continue without hindrance,” a statement from the airline continued.
In recent months, Nigeria has blocked international airlines from repatriating $464 million in revenues to their home countries according to estimates from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Emirates says its losses in Nigeria have been increasing by approximately $10 million every month. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, the airline’s senior vice president for international affairs said the airline had “tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria”.
Late last week, the Central Bank of Nigeria said it would release $265 million to airlines in order to settle outstanding ticket sales. The bank did not say when the remaining funds would be released.
British Airways has been forced to deny rumours that it was also preparing to pull out of Nigeria due to blocked revenues but last week Delta Air Lines confirmed that it would suspend its flights between New York JFK airport and Lagos due to the “current demand environment.”
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.