Trapped funds: Emirates halts Nigerian flights, to resume on 9/11

United Arab Emirates (UAE) airline Emirates on Thursday suspended flights to Nigeria as previously announced due to difficulties in repatriating funds from ticket sales.

However, the airline would resume on September 11 following the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to release $256 million, forming part of the payment of the entire blocked funds belonging to the foreign carrier.

Prior to the statement made to the airline, Emirates had reduced its flights to Nigeria from 11 to 7.

In accordance with the announcement, the airline has closed new bookings on the website and platform for travel agents, with the suspension taking effect today.

But the CBN’s intervention, which was also applauded by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), saw many foreign airlines, including British Airways, revise their initial plans to exit the Nigerian market.

Emirates has also confirmed the restoration of the Nigerian route, but with reduced frequencies at the initial stage.

The airline would return to Lagos by September 11 with four weekly flights.

Confirming this in a statement on Thursday morning, Emirates said it would continue to engage Nigerian authorities to repatriate outstanding funds.

The statement read: “Emirates welcomes the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to release some of our stranded funds, and we continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to ensure that the repatriation of our outstanding and future funds can continue unhindered.

“In light of these developments, Emirates will restore flights to/from Lagos from 11 September, which is the first date for us to coordinate the resumption of operations smoothly and safely. It will also give travelers enough time to plan and book their trips.

“We are constantly reviewing our network operations and will adjust our flight schedules to meet market demand and other operational factors.

“We remain keen to serve Nigeria, providing international connectivity for travelers and businesses to access business and tourism opportunities in Dubai, and across our wider network of over 130 destinations.”

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