Emirates suspends Nigerian flights again over trapped ticket sales

Dubai’s Emirates has suspended flights to Nigeria for the second time since September citing an inability to repatriate funds from Africa’s biggest economy, the airline said on Thursday.

Nigeria is facing severe dollar shortages, forcing many citizens and business to seek forex on the black market, where the naira currency has progressively weakened.

An Emirates spokesperson said the airline had attended several meetings with the Nigerian government and proposed ways to clear a backlog of blocked funds.

“This included the repatriation and receipt of at least 80% of our remaining blocked funds by the end of October 2022, in addition to providing a guaranteed mechanism to avoid future repatriation accumulation challenges and delays,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“Under these extraordinary circumstances Emirates had no option but to suspend flights to/from Nigeria from 29 October 2022 to mitigate against further losses moving forward.”

A spokesman for Nigerian aviation ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

Emirates did not say how much it was owed in Nigeria but the airline resumed flights in September after the Nigerian central bank released $265 million to airlines to settle outstanding ticket sales.

Nigeria, which gets roughly 90% of its foreign exchange from oil, is struggling to produce due to pipeline theft and years of underinvestment.