Emirates announced in a statement on Thursday that it has stopped operating flights to and from Nigeria due to its inability to repatriate funds from the West African country.
The airline said it had made “no progress” in reaching out to Nigerian authorities for a solution.
The decision comes after Emirates last month announced it was cutting flights to Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, after the carrier said it could not access $85 million in funds it had locked up in the country. Impounded funds are increasing by more than $10 million per month, the airline said in a letter addressed to Nigeria’s aviation minister, Hadi Sirika.
Coins in free fall
Sirika told CNN that the withheld funds will be released as this is not the first case of Nigeria withholding huge amounts of revenue for foreign air carriers.
“In the past, Nigeria has shown the capacity and the will and fairness to solve such problems. This happened when we took power in 2015: there was a lot of blocked funds, about $600 million. At a time when the country was in recession and the income in the country was falling, yet We have honored our obligation to repay all of those frozen funds,” Sirica told CNN on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, due to many factors and reasons, the money has been deposited. The government is working hard to ensure the release of this money, not just for Emirates, but for all affected airlines,” Sirika added.
Sirica added that “measures will be put in place to ensure this does not happen in the future.”
Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest markets for international careers.
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