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Emirates To Suspend Nigeria Flights From September Over Stuck Funds

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Dubai’s Emirates will suspend flights to Nigeria from next month as it is unable to repatriate funds from Africa’s most populous nation, the airline said on Thursday.

Despite Nigeria being one of the biggest markets in Africa, this highlights the difficulties faced by international carriers that fly to the country.

The country has restricted access to foreign currency for imports and for investors seeking to repatriate their profits due to a shortage of dollars. Nigeria gets about 90% of its foreign exchange from oil, but is struggling to produce due to pipeline theft and years of under-investment, reported Reuters.

International Air Transport Association indicated in June Nigeria was holding back $450 million in profit that international carriers operating in the country had earned. Emirates reiterated that there was no progress in efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention.

“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,” it said in a statement.

Emirates had earlier sent a letter to Nigeria saying it could reduce flights to Lagos this month because it could not get $85 million held in the country as of July. This figure is rising by $10 million per month.

Emirates indicated it would reconsider its decision if there was some movement over the blocked funds.

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