Posted by Sade Williams
Emirates has suspended flights to and from Nigeria indefinitely over inability to access its trapped funds in Nigeria.
The airline on Thursday said it was encouraged by the move by Central Bank of Nigeria to look into the matter but added that it can no longer cope with the situation as the funds accumulate.
“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.
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% 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.”, it said.
It would be recalled that the CBN released $265 million out of $464million to airlines operating in the country to settle outstanding ticket sales in an apparent move to check a brewing crisis in the country’s aviation sector.
A breakdown of the figure released on Friday indicates that the sum of $230 million was given as special Forex intervention while another sum of $35 million was released through the Retail SMIS auction.