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$85m Trapped Fund: Emirates Airlines To Stop Nigerian Flights Sept 1

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Emirates Airlines has said it would suspend all flights to and from Nigeria from September 1, 2022, as part of moves to repatriate its over $85 million trapped in the country.
Emirates Airlines made this known via a statement issued on Thursday.

The $85 million Emirates fund is part of the over $450 million airlines’ funds still withheld by the country.

Other countries in Africa that hold on to the huge amounts of airlines’ revenues include Zimbabwe – $100 million; Algeria – $96 million; Eritrea – $79 million and Ethiopia, $75 million (as of June 2022).

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had earlier said the trapped fund in Nigeria was about 25 percent of similar funds stuck in other countries as of April.

The funds are proceeds from sales of foreign airlines tickets, among others.

However, the airline, in the statement on Thursday, said every avenue to address its ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria has been unsuccessful.

Emirates Airlines noted it made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.

It said: “Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective 1 September 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.

“Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, we will of course re-evaluate our decision. We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travelers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations.

“As of July 2022, Emirates had hit $85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria. This figure has been rising by $10 million every month, as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and five to Abuja continue to accumulate,” the airline stated.

It added that the funds were urgently needed to meet its operational costs and maintain the commercial viability of its services to Nigeria.

“We simply cannot continue to operate at the current level in the face of mounting losses, especially in the challenging post-COVID-19 climate.

“Emirates did try to stem the losses by proposing to pay for fuel in Nigeria in naira, which would have at least reduced one element of our ongoing costs, however, this request was denied by the supplier,” the statement read.

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