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Trapped funds: Emirates halts Nigerian flights, to resume September 11

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) airline, Emirates, on Thursday suspended flights to Nigeria as earlier announced over the difficulty in repatriating funds from ticket sales.…

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) airline, Emirates, on Thursday suspended flights to Nigeria as earlier announced over the difficulty in repatriating funds from ticket sales.

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

Prior to the release made to the airline, Emirates had reduced its flights to Nigeria from 11 to seven.

In line with the announcement, the airline has closed fresh bookings on the website and the platform for travel agents as the suspension took effect today.

But the intervention by the CBN which has also been applauded by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), saw many of the foreign airlines including British Airways reviewing their initial plans to leave the Nigerian Market.

Emirates has also confirmed reinstating the Nigerian route though 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 the Nigerian authorities to repatriate outstanding funds.

The statement read: “Emirates welcomes the Central Bank of Nigeria’s move to release a portion of our blocked funds, and we continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to ensure the repatriation of our outstanding and future funds may continue without hindrance.

“In light of these developments, Emirates will reinstate flights to/from Lagos from 11 September, which is the earliest date for us to co-ordinate the smooth and safe resumption of operations. It will also provide travellers sufficient time to plan and book their journeys.

“We constantly review our network operations and will adjust our flying schedules to respond to market demand and other operational factors.

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