Emirates will resume some of its Nigeria services from 11 September, after the country’s central bank released a portion of blocked airline revenue from ticket sales.
The airline had announced in mid-August that it was suspending services to Nigeria from 1 September citing “challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria.”
However, following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) announcement on 26 August that it was releasing $265 million to airlines “to settle outstanding ticket sales”, Emirates has moved to reinstate services.
“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,” the airline said on 2 September.
“In light of these developments, Emirates will reinstate flights to/from Lagos from 11 September, which is the earliest date for us to co-ordinate the smooth and safe resumption of operations.”
Emirates initially appears to be relaunching services to Lagos at a reduced frequency versus its August schedule, while it has not yet indicated when it will resume services to Abuja.
The CBN said airlines and their customers would “heave huge sighs of relief” at the release of the funds, given that other carriers had joined Emirates in “threatening to withdraw their services”.
IATA had estimated that the money owed to carriers operating in Nigeria had risen to $464 million in July and was continuing on an upward trend.
At its AGM in June, IATA also noted that the blocked funds in Nigeria – then around $450 million – accounted for more than 25% of the global total, which stood at $1.6 billion.
It is not clear how the $265 million in released funds is being divided between the carriers serving Nigeria.
Featured image: @aviator_nic/ airspace