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Brits in EU slide into Brexit banking limbo as Barclays, Lloyd’s and Halifax shut their accounts - CITY.A.M

AUGUST 15, 2022

BY  Michiel Willems -

Thousands of Brits residing in the EU have been informed by UK banks that their EU-based bank accounts will soon be shut.

Thousands of British retirees live in Benidorm (Spain) alone.© Provided by City AMThousands of British retirees live in Benidorm (Spain) alone.

A range of British banks, including Barclays, Halifax and Lloyd’s, have told UK citizens living in the EU that they will no longer be able to have and use their account in member states, primarily in Spain, France and Germany.

They have been told they can only keep their UK bank accounts if their permanent address is in the UK, so if they are deemed living permanently in Britain, according to the international news site Expat.

Costs and paperwork

Following the end of the transition period, which ended in December 2020, British banks who wish to continue operating legally across the bloc, special legal permissions are required for each EU market individually.

As a result, many British banks have come to the conclusion this exercise is too costly and requires too much paperwork for a relatively modest amount of customers.

Therefore most UK banks have decided to pull out of the EU consumer banking market altogether.

However, this puts tens of thousands of Brits across the bloc into an awkward postion. Many retirees in Spain, who are perimantely based there, receive their pensions and other income via their UK accounts.

Moreover, most Brits in Europe have a savings account with a British bank, in British pounds.

This group now faces the choice to either base themselves permanently in Britain or transfer all of their savings into a local banka ccount.

Premium Bonds

Finally, Expat reports that the closure of bank accounts also leads to British citizens losing their Premium Bonds, some of whom have had them for decades.

These bonds are an investment product issued by the UK’s National Savings and Investment bank.

While they generate no interest or dividend, they are automatically entered into monthly draws for tax-free cash prizes, the website explains.

“It is a way for British expats, especially the elderly, to keep their money safe, as the Premium Bonds are protected by the UK’s Treasury,” according to Expat.

Blevins Franks, a financial planning firm for UK expats, has reportedly warned Brits in the EU that they should expect a letter from their bank about the closure of their account even if they haven’t received one yet.

The firm stressed that banks are still sending letters two years after Brexit came into force in January 2020.

UK pushes ahead with Rwanda migrant scheme as small boats keep coming - REUTERS

AUGUST 15, 2022

By Michael Holden and Andrew MacAskill 


LONDON (Reuters) - Housed in a detention centre in southern England, Aladeen says he risked his life to travel thousands of miles from his homeland of Syria to escape being forced to fight in the military of President Bashar al-Assad.

Now the 21-year-old is battling to stay in Britain and avoid being sent across the world again, this time to Rwanda where the British government wants to send migrants who turn up illegally on its shores.

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"It's the end of the world for me, I can't imagine it," he told Reuters by phone through an interpreter and declining to give his full name while his asylum claim is considered.

Aladeen, one of about 130 migrants initially given a ticket to Rwanda and now left in legal limbo, is caught in the British government's struggle to control its borders and manage voters' post-Brexit migration demands.

He is among more than 20,000 migrants to have made the precarious 20-mile journey from France to Britain this year on small boats across the English Channel, crossing one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

The status of migrants like Aladeen will be the subject of a legal challenge in London's High Court in early September when a coalition of human rights groups and a trade union will argue that the Rwanda policy is unworkable and unethical.

Governments across the world are wrestling with how to deal with an influx of refugees fleeing war-torn countries or persecution in their homelands. Britain is the latest country to attempt to outsource the settlement of asylum seekers.

Australia pioneered the concept and European governments have in recent years paid countries like Libya to stop migrants on their behalf. Denmark has signed a similar agreement on deportations with Rwanda, but has yet to send any migrants there.

Britain has portrayed its policy as humane, saying it will smash the business model of the people smugglers and end the emergency which has seen at least 166 people die or go missing, with 27 drowning in the worst accident in November.

But it has attracted widespread criticism - from lawmakers across the political divide, the United Nations and even heir to the throne Prince Charles - while the European Court of Human Rights issued injunctions to force the cancellation of the first deportation flight hours before it was due to leave in June.

The policy is also dwarfed by the scale of the challenge.

So far Rwanda has also only set up one hostel to accept UK arrivals, with capacity for about 100 people, representing 0.35% of all the migrants who arrived in Britain last year.

A British official said the government was in talks to acquire another three or four hostels in Kigali, but even those would only provide accommodation for about 1.6% of last year's arrivals.

"I'm not going to pretend that the Rwanda policy is the single magic bullet, but I think it can make a big difference," outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a visit to Rwanda for a meeting of Commonwealth leaders in June.

INHUMANE, UNCOSTED AND NOT WORKING

In the meantime, the asylum seekers keep arriving, with 696 on Aug. 1 alone. A report by parliament's cross-party home affairs committee said last month that there was no evidence the Rwanda policy was deterring asylum seekers.

The numbers have been rising for several years.

In 2021, 28,526 people were detected arriving on small boats - with the highest number from Iran followed by Iraq, Eritrea and Syria. That was up from 8,466 in 2020, 1,843 in 2019, and 299 in 2018, contributing to the 1.5 billion pound ($1.83 billion) annual cost of running Britain's asylum system.

Johnson said officials earlier this year believed a record 60,000 asylum seekers could arrive in Britain this year.

Both candidates to replace him have also pledged to pursue the Rwanda policy, and the favourite, foreign minister Liz Truss, has vowed to extend it to more countries.

A spokesperson for the UK government described the situation as "unacceptable" and insisted the strategy was needed to stop people "making dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys".

Britain argues that 90% of the asylum seekers who make the journey are men, many of them economic migrants rather than genuine refugees.

LEAVE AS A FRIEND

At the Hope Hostel in Kigali, arrivals are greeted with a sign in English reading "Come as a guest, leave as a friend".

"As you can see, people will find it very comfortable here," manager Elisee Kalyango said of his hostel, perched on a hillside on the outskirts of the city, with its signs printed in English, Arabic, Farsi and Albanian.

About 20 people are employed to keep the rooms clean, the grass trimmed, and the facilities in working order even though there are no guests.

The plan is for deportees to spend nine months there, on a monthly allowance of about 90 pounds, while having their asylum applications considered before being moved to permanent housing in Rwanda.

The Rwandan scheme is intended to deter people like Aladeen from making hazardous journeys to Britain and to end people-smuggling.

With five brothers and two sisters, Aladeen says he didn't know about the Rwanda policy before he left. He says he was a farmer who had to flee when he was conscripted into the Syrian military.

He says he was kidnapped and tortured for four months in Libya until his family paid a ransom. He then headed to Tripoli where he had a cousin, but fearful of being kidnapped again, left for Britain where he had relatives, via a five-day boat journey to Italy and a train to France.

Asked why he had not sought asylum in France, a question often posed by supporters of the Rwandan policy, he said he understood he would not be treated fairly there.

"I don't have family there to support me, all the family I know, everything I know - all the human rights ... that's why I came to the UK," he said.

In the northern French port of Calais, he says his family paid a people smuggler - he was not sure how much - and he made a seven-hour trip with 18 others on a small boat in mid-May.

Many others pulled out, too fearful to get into the boat.

On arrival in Britain, he was taken to a holding facility before being moved to a detention centre. He was initially given a ticket to Rwanda but said his lawyers had been able to cancel it.

"I feel I am being treated like a criminal. I am not a criminal, all I am doing is looking to settle and start a new life," he said.

Asked what he would do if sent to Rwanda, he said: "I'm not sure - my life is ended."

(Editing by Kate Holton and Nick Macfie)

Dubai Airport Expects Full Recovery Next Year Amid Travel Surge - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 17, 2022

Dubai Airports expects a full recovery in passenger traffic to come a year earlier than expected amid a resurgence in travel, according to the chief executive officer of the Gulf hub.

Customer traffic at Dubai International Airport is expected to hit 62.4 million in 2022, Paul Griffiths said in a Bloomberg Television interview. That compares with an earlier estimate of 58.3 million people traveling through the Gulf hub. 

Dubai attracted 86.4 million travelers in 2019, reflecting the dominance of home carrier Emirates on globe-spanning long-haul routes. The airport had previously forecast a return to those levels by 2024, but Griffiths said a first-half surge that saw passenger numbers jump 162% year-on-year meant a recovery would come sooner. 

“It’s an enormous surge,” he told Bloomberg TV. “As the transfer market recovers, which is the last remaining market to come back, we’re going to see sustained growth throughout the rest of the year,” Griffiths said. “Hopefully during the course of next year we will be back to the pre-pandemic levels that we enjoyed before.”

While airports across western Europe have been plagued by staffing shortfalls and union turmoil for many weeks, prompting moves to cap capacity and slim down timetables, Dubai managed to avoid the chaos seen in hubs including London Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schiphol.

“We knew at the start of the pandemic that the dramatic downturn would be followed by an equally dramatic upturn, so we were well prepared for it and using all of the business data at our disposal were able to predict the start of the recovery,” Griffiths said in a statement. 

Later this year, Dubai is set to be among the main beneficiaries of the FIFA world cup that starts in Qatar in November. The tournament will attract millions of fans, many of whom will likely stay in Dubai and travel to Qatar for matches amid constraints on hotel capacity. 

There’s going to be shuttle flights between Doha and Dubai, Griffiths said. 

“A lot of people would choose to stay in Dubai and visit Doha for each individual match,” he said. “It’s going to be a very busy time, and were putting some very special arrangements in place to make it easy for everyone.”

London's Heathrow Airport extends passenger cap to October - ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUGUST 17, 2022

LONDON (AP) — London's Heathrow Airport said Monday it will extend its cap on daily passenger numbers until the end of October as part of its efforts to cope with soaring demand for air travel amid staffing shortages.

The airport, one of Europe's busiest, said a maximum of 100,000 travelers can depart each day until Oct. 29. The daily cap was initially expected to be lifted on Sept. 11.

Heathrow imposed the temporary limit in July and told airlines to stop selling tickets during the peak summer travel season, saying the expected passenger traffic was more than airport ground staff could handle.

The airport said its temporary cap had resulted in “fewer last-minute cancellations” and “shorter waits for bags.”

It added the capacity limits would be kept under review and “could be lifted earlier should there be a sustained picture of better resilience and a material increase in resourcing levels."

Scores of summer flights into and departing from Heathrow have already been cancelled in recent months, and passengers have reported long waits at security, lost luggage and lengthy flight delays.

Booming demand for summer travel after two years of COVID-19 travel restrictions have overwhelmed European airlines and airports, which had laid off tens of thousands of pilots, cabin crew, check-in staff, ground crew and baggage handlers as the industry ground to a halt during the pandemic.

Return of Benin bronzes offers boost to Nigeria’s tourism sector - AFRICAN BUSINESS

AUGUST 17, 2022

BY Heidi Garnett

Benin City – today one of the biggest cities in Nigeria, located in the country’s southern Edo state – was for hundreds of years the capital of the wealthy and powerful kingdom of Benin, but until recently, tourists hoping for a glimpse into its glorious past were better off booking a flight to Europe than to Africa.

In 1897, the ancient city was destroyed by British soldiers and thousands of historical artefacts – including figurines, tusks, sculptures and an ivory mask – were looted and offered for sale to the highest bidders.

Many of the Benin Bronzes, the name given to the objects, were purchased by European and North American museums, where they stayed for more than a century despite fierce debate about their rightful home.

However, in recent years pressure has been mounting on the holders of these collections to return African artefacts to their places of origin, and the process now appears to have reached a watershed moment.

Museums across Europe and the US have recently announced major repatriation initiatives concerning the Bronzes, frequently brushing aside legal constraints that have prevented state collections from returning looted artefacts in the past.

In June, the Smithsonian in the US undertook to return 29 Benin Bronzes held in its National Museum of African Art collection, in July Germany signed an agreement with Nigeria covering more than 1000 items in its museums and in August the UK’s Horniman Museum announced it would return 72 artefacts.

Benin Bronzes held by Germany pictured at the signing of an agreement of intent to return them to Nigeria at the foreign ministry in Berlin, Germany on 1 July 2022. (Photo: Adam BERRY / AFP)

Museums “tumbling over each other” to return artefacts

Now appears to be the time for African countries to push their claims for the return of looted artefacts, as colonial histories are increasingly critiqued and the return of the Bronzes reveals a shift of museum policy.

“Museums across Europe, the UK and the US are now tumbling over each other to announce new policies for returning looted Benin artefacts,” says arts professional Lewis McNaught, founder of Returning Heritage, a not-for-profit dedicated to cultural restitution

Nigeria’s Legacy Restoration Trust has played an important role in the process by providing a politically neutral entity to which the Bronzes can be transferred – both the Nigerian government and the royal family of Benin have unsuccessfully laid claim to them in the past.

This could offer a blueprint for Nigeria and other African countries eager to reclaim both their histories and the accompanying promise of tourism dollars.

“In the past, wrangling over where returning artefacts should be displayed has damaged the pace of African restitution,” says McNaught.

The Legacy Restoration Trust’s plan to house returning Bronzes in the Edo Museum of West African Art in Benin City – designed by Sir David Adjaye and due to open in 2025 – is a “hugely welcome initiative” he says.

A Bronze boost for tourism

“The development of cultural activities such as the building of the Edo Museum can benefit [tourism], especially from increasing domestic tourism spending,” says Fransua Vytautas Razvadauskas, mobility and cities senior consultant at Euromonitor International, a market research provider.

Museums are a significant draw for tourists and the top 100 museums in the world attracted a combined total of 71m visitors during 2021 – despite the Covid-19 pandemic and continued lockdown restrictions, according to The Art Newspaper.

The Musée du Louvre in Paris once again topped the list of most visited museums, drawing 2.8m visitors in 2021 (still well below pre-pandemic levels that saw 9.6m visitors in 2019).

While the full range of economic benefits of the travel and tourism industries are difficult to pin down, Statista projects the French travel and tourism market will reach $16.55bn in 2022. The travel and tourism industry of Nigeria, which saw significant damage from the Covid-19 pandemic but managed to keep domestic tourism afloat, could use such a boost.

Inbound tourism spending in Nigeria dropped from N455.5 bn ($1bn) to N114.4bn from 2019-20, according to Razvadauskas.

However, domestic tourism spending did not record a substantial fall, only declining from N922.4bn to N898bn, and appears poised for further growth. Euromonitor International forecasts it to exceed N1trillion ($2.4bn) in 2022 and 1.2 trillion by 2025.

“The museum will provide a new magnet for Western tourists keen on travelling to Benin City to learn more about the culture of the Edo people and where the Bronzes came from,” says McNaught. “This can deliver genuine growth in tourist revenues.”

A bronze sculpture depicting an “Oba” (king) of Benin kept in the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. (Photo: Kalyan VEERA / University of Aberdeen / AFP)

British Museum holds out

McNaught describes the changing attitudes to African artefacts held in Western collections.

“In the past, they have always been considered ‘trophies of war’, objects that belong by right to the victors which should remain on display in Western museums telling the story of colonial histories,” says McNaught.

“But a growing number of museums are pushing these histories aside. More and more now feel that objects acquired illegitimately should be returned to their country of origin.”

Still, in the UK, likely home to the greatest number of Bronzes, it is estimated there are 45 institutions holding looted Benin artefacts.

When London’s Horniman Museum announced the return of 72 Benin artefacts, it joined the ranks of Glasgow City Council, Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, who combined have pledged the repatriation to Nigeria of several hundred artefacts.

But one of the outliers is the British Museum, which claims that the British Museum Act of 1963 prohibits it from returning any of the Bronzes in its collection. It has instead pledged to focus on “research and cultural exchange initiatives” in Nigeria.

“The Museum remains petrified that handing back any of its collection of 900 Bronzes will lead to a flood of demands to return other contested items – including the much-disputed Parthenon Marbles,” says McNaught.

An African ivory mask kept in museum in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo: CameraCraft / Adobe Stock)

The implications of the Benin Bronzes’ homecoming reach far beyond the British Museum and the Bronzes themselves, setting a precedent that could be applied to vast numbers of artefacts in museum collections that have been taken from African countries.

McNaught says that he is already consulting on an Ethiopian restitution project and has another in the works with a significant museum, which “could have major and positive consequences for all African restitution”.

However, McNaught warns that the battle over the Bronzes, which holds so many African artefacts in the balance, is not over. He says that African organisations should work together to avoid an undignified and divisive scramble for the returning works.

“The Benin Bronzes belong in Benin City, but wider returns to Nigeria would also be significant,” says McNaught.

“Once completed, the new [Edo] museum will provide confidence and reassurance to other Western institutions thinking about repatriating their Bronzes. However, it must remain the focus of attention and resource going forward. Rival plans proposed to create an alternative museum in Benin City to house the Bronzes would be dangerously distracting.”

Britons Face Days of Travel Upheaval as Transport Strikes Spread - BLOOMBERG

AUGUST 18, 2022

BY  Charlotte RyanBloomberg News

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Rail passengers wait for announcements at Euston train station on July 30, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. ASLEF Union says that train drivers have not had a pay rise since 2019 and coupled with inflation expected to rise to 11% this Autumn, it amounts to a substantial pay cut. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Rail passengers wait for announcements at Euston train station on July 30, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. ASLEF Union says that train drivers have not had a pay rise since 2019 and coupled with inflation expected to rise to 11% this Autumn, it amounts to a substantial pay cut. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images) , Photographer: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images Europe

(Bloomberg) --

Britons face some of the most widespread disruption of the so-called summer of discontent over coming days as rail workers stage nationwide strikes and bus and subway staff hold stoppages in London.

The industrial action on public transport will be followed Sunday by the start of an eight-day strike by dockers at Felixstowe, the UK’s biggest container port, which threatens to create shortages of everything from toys and consumer electronics to clothes and furniture.

Trains across the UK will be canceled on Thursday and Saturday amid strikes by the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, affecting 14 train operating companies and state-controlled track and stations owner Network Rail Ltd. The same two days will see walkouts by members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association at seven train operators.

Companies across Britain are suffering a surge in industrial action as soaring inflation stokes pay claims against a background of labor shortages. The rail sector has been hit particularly hard, with drivers at the Aslef union also staging national strikes, as the government presses firms to modernize and trim costs in light of a drop in commuting following the coronavirus crisis.

A union-led group called Enough is Enough will launch a series of 50 rallies across Britain from Wednesday as it calls for measures including real-terms pay rises for workers, energy-bill cuts and higher taxes for top earners.

A Network Rail spokesman said there’ll be no trains at all across half the UK system on Thursday and Saturday, slightly less disruptive than during strikes in July amid improved availability of staff in Scotland. On the remainder of the network, services will be reduced to only a fifth of the usual timetable.

London Targeted

Thursday will also see a reduced service on the London Overground, Elizabeth Line and some London Underground subway routes. And on Friday, sandwiched between the mainline shutdowns, the whole of the Underground faces a one-day strike, just as bus drivers in the capital begin a two-day walkout.

Bus journeys in west and northwest London and parts of the counties of Hertfordshire and Surrey will be impacted, according to Transport for London.

“We’re urging people to avoid traveling on the Tube and only travel if essential on the rest of the network,” TfL Chief Operating Officer Andy Lord said in a statement. For the whole of the period from Thursday through Sunday people should plan ahead and “expect disruption,” he said.

Britain’s roads, already crowded with holidaymakers, are likely to suffer increased snarl-ups as a result of the strikes. Traffic levels increased by 49% during June transport walkouts and by 36% last month, according to satellite-navigation software provider Waze. Bottlenecks are most likely on the M25 encircling London, the M60 around Manchester, the M5 linking the Midlands with the Southwest, and along the M6 that runs to the Scottish border.

Container Halt

While the walkouts will upset travel for millions of Britons and force many to work from home as they did during pandemic lockdowns, the strikes at Felixstowe amid a dispute with CK Hutchison could be potentially more problematic for the UK economy, strangling off imports on the busiest container routes from East Asia.

Workers at Peel Ports Ltd.’s Port of Liverpool, which is more important for trade with the Americas, have also voted in favor of strike action. Rival docks including Southampton and London Gateway will seek to pick up some diverted flows.

Among further strikes that are looming, some 115,000 postal workers are set to walk out for two days next week as the Communication Workers Union presses for improved pay at Royal Mail Plc. There have also been “wildcat” strikes at factories and industrial plants.

$85m trapped revenue: Emirates suspends ALL flights to Nigeria September 1 - THE CABLE

AUGUST 18, 2022

Emirates Airlines has announced the suspension of its flight operations to Nigeria, starting September 1, 2022.

The flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) disclosed this in a statement on Thursday, citing the inability to repatriate its earnings in foreign exchange from Nigeria.

Last month, Emirates asked Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, to support the repatriation of its revenue, amounting to $85 million. Nigeria is facing a forex exchange crisis and this has also affected the nation’s local currency — Naira — to depreciate against the dollar.

The airline said the suspension would “limit further losses and reduce the impact on its operational costs that continue to accumulate in the Nigerian market”.

“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,” the airline said.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.

“Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, we remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travellers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations.”

In May, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) lamented the inability of foreign airlines to repatriate about $450 million in earnings

Of the amount, IATA said Nigeria alone is holding about $450 million due to a shortfall of foreign exchange (FX) and a dwindling reserve.

Sam Adurogboye, spokesperson for Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), in a chat with TheCable, pleaded with the government to help the airlines repatriate the funds.

JUST IN: Lagos extends ban on okada operations to four LGAs - THE CABLE

AUGUST 18, 2022

The Lagos state government has announced a ban on the operations of commercial motorcycles in four additional LGAs in the state.

Frederic Oladeinde, Lagos commissioner for transportation, announced the development during a press briefing, on Thursday.

The affected LGAs are Kosofe, Oshodi-Isolo, Shomolu, and Mushin.

In May, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, had announced a total ban on commercial motorcycles operation in six LGAs, which include Ikeja, Surulere, Eti Osa, Lagos Mainland, Lagos Island and Apapa.

Trapped forex: More airlines to suspend Nigerian operations - PUNCH

AUGUST 19, 2022
  •  British Airways informs passengers of imminent airfares’ hike

More international carriers are gearing to join the Emirates Airlines which announced, on Thursday, the suspension of its flight operations in Nigeria from September 1, 2022, our correspondents gathered.

The British Airways has already reduced their flight frequencies to Nigeria, as the airline informed its passengers on Thursday of an imminent hike in the cost of its flight tickets.

The international airlines are halting operations in Nigeria and raising airfares because of their inability to repatriate funds to their home countries.

In June this year, The PUNCH reported that the International Air Transport Association expressed concerns over the decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to block foreign airlines from repatriating ticket sales revenue running into $450m (N188.6bn) into their respective countries.

Nigeria gets about 90 per cent of its United States dollar from the sale of crude oil. However, the country has consistently not been able to meet its approved crude production quota on a monthly basis due to massive oil theft.

This has severely impacted on the country’s foreign exchange earnings, making it tough for the Central Bank of Nigeria to make dollar accessible for repatriation by foreign airlines with operations in Nigeria.

As a fall-out of the continued inability of Emirates Airlines to repatriate its funds, the carrier announced in a statement on Thursday that its flight operations in Nigeria would be suspended from September 1, 2022.

In its statement, Emirates Airlines stated that it “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.”

It added, “Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, 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.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.”

It, however, noted that should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, the airline would, of course, re-evaluate its decision.

“We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much needed connectivity for Nigerian travellers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations,” the global carrier stated.

Reacting to this, the President, Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, Kingsley Nwokeoma, said more international carriers would join Emirates Airlines soon if nothing was done to address their concerns.

He said, “This is just the beginning. It is over $1 billion dollars that is being held and they (foreign airlines) cannot repatriate it. If other countries are like Nigeria, there will not be any industry because this money is used for maintenance. Even the money used to pay their staff in Nigeria is coming from other climes.

“Aviation industry is all about 100 per cent safety. If there is no money, safety will not be 100 per cent guaranteed. So, it is going to continue. Emirates has kick-started it and I’m sure that you are aware that British Airways has cut flights into Nigeria and that is how it is going to start.

“Just like Emirates did, they will first of all cut their flight into Nigeria and they will look at it holistically again and if it is not working out, then it’s not working out. This did not start today. It started over the years and the government is not doing anything.”

Nwokeoma added, “Look at it this way, when things were not this bad, what commitment did the government make? Is it now that things are gloomy? So, we hope that we don’t have to go to Benin Republic, Togo or Ghana before we can fly out or do our international travels.”

The foreign airlines’ representative observed that most passengers from Nigeria travelled to Dubai and the Middle East using Emirates Airlines.

“So if they are not coming into Nigeria, it means there is going to be a big vacuum which nobody can fill. It will continue because the airlines will start reducing frequencies,” he stated.

Nwokeoma added, “I keep asking this question that if other climes are behaving like Nigeria, will there be an aviation sector? The airplanes that come in are not our freight. They have to pay Boeing, they pay AirBus, they pay all these people, they have a payment scheme and where is the money coming from? So, it is an issue.”

Meanwhile in a notice to its passengers through various travel agents on Thursday, British Airways stated that it was changing to full fares any moment from now.

The notice read, “Good afternoon. Please be informed that information reaching us from BA indicates that the airline is changing to full fares F, J, W and Y any moment from now. Kindly let (us) issue any pending tickets to avoid fare increase.”

When asked to explain what the notice implied, Nwokeoma stated, “It is basically to cover for the dollar loss, but some airlines are doing it already. So, that means air tickets will be more expensive.

“It will be more expensive because it will now be in relationship with the black market rate. So the F, J, W, Y middle seats will be more expensive.”

The International Air Transport Association Regional Vice President, Kamil Alawadhi, said, “IATA is disappointed that the amount of airline money blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government grew to $464 million in July. This is airline money and its repatriation is protected by international agreements in which Nigeria participates. IATA’s many warnings that failure to restore timely repatriation will hurt Nigeria with reduced air connectivity are proving true with the withdrawal of Emirates from the market. Airlines cannot be expected to fly if they cannot realize the revenue from ticket sales.”

“Loss of air connectivity harms the local economy, hurts investor confidence, impacts jobs and peoples livelihoods. It’s time for the Government of Nigeria to prioritize the release of airline funds before more damage is done.”

Alawadhi said this was the eventuality that IATA had been warning Nigeria’s government about and was an eventuality IATA and airlines desperately wanted to avert.”

Emirates suspends flights to Nigeria from September - PUNCH

AUGUST 19, 2022

Emirates Airlines on Thursday announced the suspension of its flight operations in Nigeria from September 1, 2022.

It said the suspension became necessary following its inability to repatriate its funds from Nigeria.

International carriers operating in Nigeria have repeatedly complained about their inability to repatriate funds to their home countries.

They have raised this concern on many occasions with officials of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, as well as those at the finance ministry.

Blocked funds belonging to these airlines have risen to about $600m, as this is due to the inability of the Central Bank of Nigeria to make the United States dollar available for the carriers to repatriate.

In its statement on Thursday, Emirates Airlines stated that it “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.”

It added, “Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, 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.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.”

It, however, noted that should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, the airline would, of course, re-evaluate its decision.

“We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travellers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations,” the global carrier stated.

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