Emirates has temporarily stopped service to Nigeria once again due to the inability to repatriate revenue generated from ticket sales.
The airline stated that the suspension went into effect on 29 October 2022 and would prevent “additional losses moving forward.” Before 28 October, the Dubai-based airline said it would cease operations in Nigeria.
International airlines have been struggling with the problem of ticket payment monies being held in Nigeria for months. Before the Nigerian government decided to provide some funding in September, Emirates had ceased flights in August.
However, new attempts to get the Gulf carrier to release more money don’t appear to have worked.
A spokesperson for Emirates told Reuters on 2 November 2022, “We simply cannot meet our operational costs nor maintain the commercial viability of our operations in Nigeria” unless the backlog is resolved. A mechanism is put in place to prevent future repatriation of Emirates’ funds from accumulating in any way.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria House of Representatives stated that additional funds would be released in phases until the end of December 2022. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) indicated that $120 million was released on 31 October 2022 after a meeting with aviation representatives on 24 October 2022.
At the meeting, a representative from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that airlines were still due $700 million in ticket revenues.
A total of $120 million in frozen funds belonging to international airlines will soon be released by the Central Bank of Nigeria, prompting calls for a reversal of flight cancellations.
House representatives expressed optimism that the 24 October meeting’s agreement to deliver additional funding in stages through the end of December 2022 would lead to a “ceasefire” in the dispute over airline cancellations.
Speaker of the House Femi Gbajabiamila has asked airlines to rethink their plans to cease operations temporarily.
The IATA official stated it wasn’t speaking for Emirates but vowed to pass the feedback to the airline industry.
According to their statement, the Emirates has met with the Nigerian government during “several hearings.” The airline added, “We have clarified our recommended method to alleviate this untenable situation, including a plan for the progressive release of our cash.”