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Blocked $85m: Emirates to reduce flights to Nigeria August 15

Why Emirates mulls operations without visa ban lift

Emirates Airlines has disclosed plans to cut its operations from Dubai to Lagos from 11 per week to 7 per week, starting from August 15th, 2022 due to its inability to repatriate its blocked funds from Nigeria.

The airline’s plan was contained in a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Federal Ministry of Aviation, dated July 22, 2022.

In the letter signed by Sheikh Majid Mualla, DSVP International Affairs, it stated that, “Emirates will be forced to reduce flights from Dubai to Lagos from 11 per week to 7 per week. 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.”

According to Emirates, “As of July, 2022, Emirates has US$85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria. This figure has been rising by more than $US10 million every month, as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and 5 to Abuja continue to accumulate.”

Read also: Emirates strengthens connection with Nigerian travellers, hospitality industry
The airline explained that the funds are urgently needed to meet their operational costs and maintain the commercial viability of their services to Nigeria, Emirates added “We simply cannot continue to operate at the current level in the face of mounting losses, especially in the challenging post COVID-19 climate.”

Explaining further, the airline stated that they tried to stem the loss by proposing to pay for fuel in Nigeria in Nairas, which would have at least reduced costs; however, this request was denied by the supplier.

“This means that not only Emirates revenues accumulating, we also have to send hard currency into Nigeria to sustain our operations. Meanwhile, our revenues are out of reach and not even earning credit interest.

“Your Excellency, this is not a decision we have taken lightly. Indeed, we have made every effort to work with the deputy governor of the CBN in May and followed up on the meeting by letter to the Governor himself the following month. However, no positive response was received. Meetings were also with Emirates own bank in Nigeria and in collaboration with IATA to improve FX allocation, but with limited success”, Emirates stated.

BusinessDay had reported that in the last few weeks, passengers travelling from Nigeria to other parts of the world were bye-passing travel agents in Nigeria to purchase tickets from agents in Ghana and other African countries over skyrocketing fares as a result of the $500 million blocked funds.
Air fares have risen to almost 400 percent to some destinations as foreign airlines operating in Nigeria have blocked all low ticket inventories on their websites and are selling the highest inventories making it difficult for passengers to buy affordable tickets.