Nigeria Asks Emirates To Resume Flights - SIMPLY FLYING
The country’s president said Nigeria will make additional foreign exchange available for affected airlines.
The country of Nigeria hopes that flights from Dubai-based Emirates will resume soon. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari called for the airline's return last week and reportedly directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to produce more foreign currency available to Emirates.
The move comes after Emirates suspended flights to the West African country last year, citing the lack of progress in repatriating funds due to the country's severe dollar shortage. The airline reportedly negotiated in several meetings with representatives from the Nigerian aviation ministry to discover solutions to release the funds.
Calling on the airline
Buhari posted on Twitter earlier this week that while he spoke to United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to offer condolences on the death of his mother-in-law, he also informed him about the effect of suspended flights.
"I also called for a resumption of suspended Nigerian operations of Emirates Airlines," Buhari said. "I assured Sheikh Mohamed that the fund repatriation issues that led to the suspension are receiving appropriate attention. We will make additional foreign exchange available for affected airlines."
The relations between the UAE and Nigeria are essential, according to Buhari.
"Nigeria and the UAE have enjoyed excellent and beneficial relations for many years, including at the highest political levels. We can and must continue to iron out whatever issues arise between us," he said.
Buhari also mentioned that his country is mindful of the consular issues relating to the behavior of some Nigerians in the UAE. He said Nigeria will ensure the application of necessary sanctions, through the appropriate judicial process, against anyone identified to have committed criminal acts in the UAE.
Emirates halted Nigerian flights twice last year to protest against its ticket revenue being withheld. Following several unsuccessful meetings with the government of Nigeria, the halt occurred indefinitely.
According to ch-aviation, Emirates had proposed a plan to progressively release at least 80% of its funds by the end of October 2022. When this did not follow through, the carrier pulled its routes, claiming its Nigerian operations were running at a loss and were no longer commercially viable.
On September 11th, Emirates reinstated its flights to Nigeria after suspending them on September 1st. The carrier demanded the payout of $85 million of its revenue after the Central Bank of Nigeria released $265 million to international airlines to settle outstanding ticket sales.
According to the International Air Transport Association, Nigeria topped the list of culprits worldwide by withholding $551 million of airlines' funds, which Nigerian authorities reportedly engaged with airlines to find solutions.
Challenges in Nigeria
Repatriation issues first arose in March 2020 when the demand for foreign currency in the country outpaced its supply. Banks throughout Nigeria could not provide currency repatriations, while the country's federal government implemented a currency change. According to ch-aviation, Buhari authorized the central bank to redesign major Nigerian bank notes, but it caused a cash shortfall.
Earlier this month, the Nigerian President said he was aware of the cash shortages and hardship faced by people and businesses on account of the Naira redesign. Violent protests have also erupted in Nigeria over the scarcity of cash. This week, protesters reportedly attacked automated teller machines and blocked roads in three cities.