Emirates announced in a statement on Thursday that it has halted flight operations in and out of Nigeria due to its inability to repatriate funds from the West African country.
The airline said “no progress” has been made in reaching Nigerian authorities for a solution.
The decision comes after Emirates announced last month that it would be cutting flights to Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos. The stalled funds rose by more than $10 million each month, the airline said in a letter to Nigerian Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika.
Currency in Free Fall
Sirika told CNN the pending funds will be released as this was not the first time Nigeria has been holding huge amounts of revenue that belonged to foreign airlines.
“In the past, Nigeria has shown the ability, willingness and honesty to solve these kinds of problems. It happened when we took power in 2015: there were a lot of blocked funds, about $600 million at the time. While the country was in recession and dwindling revenues were coming to the country, we still met our commitment to pay out all those blocked funds,” Sirika told CNN on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, due to many factors and reasons, the funds have been piling up again. The government is working hard to ensure that these funds are released, not just to Emirates, but to all airlines involved,” Sirika added.
Sirika added that “mechanisms will be put in place to ensure this does not happen in the future.”
Nigeria is one of Africa’s largest markets for international carriers.