Emirates Airlines announced in a statement Thursday that it has suspended flight operations in and out of Nigeria due to its inability to return funds from the West African country.
The airline said it had “made no progress” in reaching out to Nigerian authorities for a solution.
The decision comes after Emirates announced last month to reduce the number of flights to Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, the company said it does not have access to its $ 85 million funds withheld in the country. In a letter to Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, the airline said the stalled funds had risen by more than $10 million per month.
Currency in free fall
Serica told CNN that the withheld funds would be released as this was not the first time Nigeria had held huge amounts of revenue belonging to foreign airlines.
“In the past, Nigeria has shown the ability, willingness and fairness to solve this kind of problem. That was when we took power in 2015: there was a lot of money withheld, about $600 million at the time. It was in that was in,” Serica told CNN on Thursday. “At a time when the country was in a recession and there were dwindling revenue coming into the country, but we made good on our commitment to pay all that withheld money.”
“Unfortunately, due to many factors and reasons, funds have accumulated in reserve. The government is working hard to ensure that these funds are released, not only to Emirates Airlines but to all affected airlines,” Serica added.
“Mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that this does not happen in the future,” Serica added.
Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest markets for international airlines.