Blocked Funds Reason for Not Returning to Nigeria, Says Emirates

Chinedu Eze

Dubai-based mega carrier, Emirates Airlines has explained that the reason why it may not resume flights to Nigeria anytime soon is because of the failure of the federal government to facilitate the airline’s repatriation of its revenues still trapped in the country.

Emirates spokesperson said in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday that it stopped flight service to Nigeria five months ago but since then nothing concrete has been made to enhance the repatriation of its trapped funds.

Although the Middle East carrier did not state the amount of money yet to be taken out of Nigeria, it said that it was 50 per cent of the total of the blocked funds.

Emirates, which stopped flight operations to Nigeria on November 3, 2022, said it was exasperated by the fact that nothing cheerful has come from the Nigerian government about remitting its trapped revenue from Nigeria despite assurances from the highest quarters.

“It has been five months since Emirates suspended operations to and from Nigeria, and during this time we have seen little progress in the clearing of our backlog of funds. As of today, Emirates still has a substantial balance of blocked funds that have yet to be repatriated, and the progressive clearing our backlog remains beset with constant delays. Today, around 50 per cent of the amount approved for clearing within our backlog is still overdue for repatriation.

“We have made many concerted efforts to enable a swift return to Nigeria. We had proposed a number of solutions and measures to recover our funds, and engaged in dialogue with government stakeholders and industry bodies. Regretfully and despite many media reports of public assurances made at the highest levels, solutions continue to be stalled.

“We acknowledge that the wider aviation industry and the local value chain it supports in Nigeria face a similar market reality. However, unless there is a committed strategy by the local authorities to deliver concrete action, air services for travelers, for businesses seeking global market opportunities and for investments – all supported through air transport and critical to Nigeria’s economic recovery – will continue to dwindle,” Emirates said.

It also said that it was committed to finding mutual resolution with the Nigerian government and Central Bank to repatriate the rest of “our blocked funds in a swift manner, and provide a roadmap that includes firm measures to prevent future repatriation accumulation challenges and delays. We call on them to work with us, hand in hand, to ensure Nigerian travelers and businesses have unfettered connectivity and access to our global network.”

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