Emirates Airlines on Thursday said it would suspend its flight operations to Nigeria from September 1, 2022. The flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) disclosed this in a statement, blaming its decision on the inability to repatriate its earnings in foreign exchange from Nigeria.
This is coming about three weeks after the airlines appealed to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, to support the repatriation of its revenue said to be $85 million. Nigeria is facing a forex exchange crisis and this has also affected the nation’s local currency — Naira — to depreciate against the dollar.
In a letter addressed to the minister and signed by Sheik Majid Al Mualla, Emirates airline’s Divisional Senior Vice-President (DSVP), International Affairs, Emirates said the planned reductions in its operations in Nigeria would take effect from August 15, 2022. It stated that flights would be reduced from 11 per week to seven per week at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
“We have had no choice but to take this action, to mitigate the continued losses Emirates is experiencing as a result of funds being blocked in Nigeria,” the airlines said.
“As of July 2022, Emirates has US$ 85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria. This figure has been rising by more than $US 10 million every month, as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and 5 to Abuja continue to accumulate.”