Emirates plan to reduce Nigeria flights – Letter

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Emirates plans to reduce the number of flights to Nigeria this month, according to a letter sent to the government.

The Dubai-owned airline will cut the number of flights to the commercial capital Lagos from 11 to seven per week, according to the letter, due to difficulties in repatriating revenues.

Emirates added that it had $85 million stuck in Nigeria as of July – a figure that had been rising by $10 million per month.

In June, the International Air Transport Association said Nigeria was withholding hundreds of millions in revenue that international carriers operating in the country had earned.

That’s as the central bank restricts access to foreign currency to tackle a severe dollar shortage.

Nigeria gets roughly 90% of its foreign exchange from oil but it is struggling to produce due to pipeline theft and years of underinvestment.

Industry observers said more airlines could follow Emirates’ example if the central bank does not address their concerns.

Amid similar foreign exchange restrictions in 2016, several airlines reduced flights and two stopped flying to Nigeria altogether.

A spokesperson for Nigeria’s aviation ministry did not reply to a request for comment.

In a statement, Emirates said trouble repatriating funds was impacting its commercial viability in Nigeria and that efforts to solve the problem had been met with limited success.

It did not comment directly on the letter but said it hoped to continue a full schedule.