Emirates announced in a statement Thursday that it had suspended flights to and from Nigeria due to an inability to repatriate funds from the West African country.
The airline said there was “no progress” in finding a solution by the Nigerian authorities.
The decision comes after Emirates announced last month it was cutting flights to Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos. The airline said it could not access its $85 million funds held in the country. The stranded funds grew by more than $10 million each month, the airline said in a letter to Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika.
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Sirica told CNN that the blocked funds will be released as this is not the first time Nigeria has withheld huge amounts of revenue from foreign air carriers.
“Nigeria has shown in the past the ability, willingness and fairness to deal with these kinds of issues. This happened when we came to power in 2015: there were a lot of blocked funds, about $600 million at that time. a time when the country was in recession and dwindling revenues were coming into the country, but we met our obligation to pay all of these blocked funds,” Sirika told CNN on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, due to many factors and reasons, money has accumulated again. The government is working hard to ensure that this money is not only released for Emirates, but for all affected airlines,” Sirica added.
Sirica added that “mechanisms will be put in place to prevent this from happening in the future.”
Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest markets for international carriers.