Emirates announced in a statement Thursday that it has suspended flight operations in and out of Nigeria due to its inability to repatriate funds from the West African country.
The airline said “there has been no progress” in reaching out to Nigerian authorities for a solution.
The decision comes after Emirates announced last month it was cutting flights to Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, with the airline saying it was unable to access its $85 million worth of funds held in the country. The stalled funds had increased by more than $10 million each month, the airline said in a letter to Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika.
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Sirika told CNN that the trapped funds will be released as it was not the first time Nigeria had withheld large amounts of revenue belonging to foreign airlines.
“In the past, Nigeria has shown the ability, the will and the fairness to solve these kinds of problems. It happened when we took power in 2015: there were a lot of funds blocked, around $600 million at the time. It was at a time when that the country was in a recession and there was a decline in revenue coming into the country, but we fulfilled our obligation to pay all those blocked funds,” Sirika told CNN on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, due to many factors and reasons, the money has accumulated. The government is working hard to ensure that this money is released, not only for Emirates but for all affected airlines,” Sirika added.
Sirika added that “mechanisms will be put in place to ensure this does not happen in the future.”
Nigeria is one of the largest markets in Africa for international carriers.