Emirates Airlines has announced the suspension of flight operations in Nigeria from September 1, blaming President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime for its decision.
The announcement came after several failed attempts by the foreign airline to recover $85 million of its over $600 million trapped in Nigeria.
The airline explained in a statement released on Thursday that it had to limit further losses caused by its inability to repatriate funds from Nigeria.
“Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective September 1 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market,” the airline stated.
The statement added, “Emirates has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.”
Emirates apologised to customers for any inconveniences the suspension may have caused and made a commitment to assist them in finding alternate travel options whenever possible. However, it promised to review its decision once there is progress in repatriating its frozen funds.
It announced in July a reduction in flight operations to Nigeria from August 15, citing the Central Bank of Nigeria’s continued withholding of $85 million from its ticket sales.
While announcing the reduction in July, the airline’s DSVP International Affairs Majid Al Mualla stated that the airline had made efforts to work with the CBN to find a solution.
He mentioned that meetings were held with the airline’s bank in Nigeria and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to discuss improving forex allocation. The efforts had met with limited success.