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Emirates says ‘substantial’ ticket revenue still trapped in Nigeria

Emirates Airline Nigeria Emirates
Emirates Airline said in March it has 'substantial' revenue trapped in Nigeria and has made slow progress in repatriating the blocked funds

Dubai-based airline Emirates has a “substantial” amount of ticket sale revenue trapped in Nigeria, a spokesperson said.

The airline declined to release the amount trapped in Nigeria, but the spokesperson added about half of the amount in its backlog was overdue for repatriation, Reuters reported.

The process “remains beset with constant delays”, the airline added.

Nigeria’s aviation minister Hadi Sirika told reporters on Thursday that the airline had received most of its funds out of Nigeria and had about $35 million that still needed to be released.

Africa’s largest economy is withholding $743 million in revenue earned by international carriers operating in the country, the highest amount owed by any nation, trade body the International Air Transport Association said last week.

Sirika said on Thursday that the country was planning to release money from foreign airlines’ ticket sales, held up by US dollar shortages in the country. No timeline was given.

President Muhammadu Buhari in February directed the central bank to increase the amount of foreign currency allocated to Emirates after the airline suspended flights to and from Nigeria because it was unable to repatriate funds.

The Nigerian central bank in August 2022 released $265 million to airlines to settle outstanding ticket sales, after which Emirates resumed its Nigerian flights in September. The airline suspended the service from the end of October because of the same issue.

Emirates had made many concerted efforts to restart flights to Africa’s most populous nation since halting them five months ago, but a solution continued to be stalled, the spokesperson added.

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