Emirates Airlines suspends all flights between Dubai and Nigeria from next month over Blocked Revenue

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Emirates Airlines has announced the suspension of all its flights between Dubai and Nigeria for next month, where 85 million dollars from the local sale of plane tickets are still blocked.

The Emirati company announced the flight suspension from September 1, 2022, of all services between its base in Dubai and the airports of Lagos and Abuja, which it had to serve the next month twice and once a day respectively.

Emirates explained in a statement that despite efforts to engage in dialogue with the relevant authorities to help find “a viable solution” to the difficulties of repatriating funds from ticket sales, there has been ” no progress towards a positive outcome. It has, therefore “taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, to limit further losses and the impact on our operational costs which continue to accumulate in the market”.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers; however, the circumstances are beyond our control on this issue”, underlines the airline; “in the event of a positive development in the coming days regarding the sums blocked in Nigeria, we will, of course, reassess our decision”.

Emirates had already told Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika last month that it was losing ” $10 million every month ” in operational costs by operating to and from the country. Since Monday, it has reduced its frequencies to the two airports in the country.

Nigeria has been limiting access to foreign currency due to the dollar shortage.

” In the past, Nigeria has demonstrated its ability, willingness and fairness to address this type of issue,” the minister told CNN yesterday. “ It happened when we took power in 2015: there were a lot of blocked funds, around 600 million dollars at the time. when the country was in a recession and the country’s income was declining, but we have honoured our obligation to pay out all these blocked funds “.

In its briefing last June, IATA denounced this blocking of funds as one of the main obstacles to the resumption of air traffic in Africa: Nigeria was withholding 450 million dollars, Zimbabwe 100 million, Algeria 96 million, Eritrea 79 million and Ethiopia 75 million. That is about 1 billion dollars blocked in twelve African countries, which then represented 67% of the problem on a global scale (20 countries concerned).

Other Airlines Follow Suit

South African Airways is also reportedly limiting Naira usage for payment of tickets on its Lagos – Johannesburg route.

While the latest development by SA may not be connected with the $450 million belonging to some foreign carriers still trapped in Nigeria, the airline hopes to ensure seamless repatriation of its funds to South Africa rather than getting them trapped in Nigeria.

The South African carrier declared that last week, noting that passengers can only issue Sold Inside Ticketed Inside (SITI), that is, trips emanating from Lagos-Johannesburg-Lagos tickets in naira.

In other words, payments for all tickets issued in Nigeria will be in Naira in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy on the purchase of flight tickets in the country.

The statement read: “Please be informed that effective from Wednesday 10th August 2022, you can ONLY issue SITI (i.e. LOS-JNB-LOS) tickets in Naira. ALL other tickets, i.e. SOTI and SOTO, have to be issued in USD.

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