$85 million trapped Funds: Emirates Airline suspends flights to Nigeria

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    Emirates Airline has suspended its flights operations to Nigeria over inability to repatriate funds trapped in Nigeria.

    The airline said this in statement on Thursday, noting that the suspension took effect from October, 29 2022.

    This is second time the airline will be suspending flights to the West African country over its $85million revenue.

    It will be recalled that on September 1 Emirates announced suspension of flight operations into the country from September 1, 2022, following its inability to repatriate over $85 million of its tickets sale.

    The Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had said it would release part of the outstanding ticket sales fund, in response to the development.

    The airlines said it would resume again on September 11 following the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to release $256m, being the part payment.

    However, in a fresh statement, Emirates, the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, UAE, disclosed that despite promises of allocation by CBN, nothing had been done.

    It, therefore, decided to suspend both inbound and outbound Nigerian flight operations.

    “Emirates has continued to actively seek a solution for the repatriation of the remainder of its blocked funds in Nigeria. We were encouraged by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s efforts of reviewing our request, and considered that this critical issue would be swiftly resolved with the subsequent clearance of our remaining funds,” the statement reads.

    “However, Emirates has yet to receive an allocation of our blocked funds to be repatriated. Without the timely repatriation of the funds and a mechanism in place to ensure that future repatriation of Emirates’ funds do not accumulate in any way, the backlog will continue to grow, and we simply cannot meet our operational costs nor maintain the commercial viability of our operations in Nigeria.

    “We have officially communicated our position and attended multiple hearings with the Nigerian government, and we have made our proposed approach clear to alleviate this untenable situation, including a plan for the progressive release of our funds. This included the repatriation and receipt of at least 80 percent of our remaining blocked funds by the end of October 2022, in addition to providing a guaranteed mechanism to avoid future repatriation accumulation challenges and delays.

    “Under these extraordinary circumstances Emirates had no option but to suspend flights to/from Nigeria from 29 October 2022 to mitigate against further losses moving forward.

    “We hope to reach a mutual resolution with the Nigerian government around the repatriation of blocked funds to enable the resumption of operations and connectivity for travellers and businesses.”

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