Dubai-based international airline, Emirates is set to suspend its operations in Nigeria from October, 22nd due to irregularities in foreign currency repatriation policy.
Foreign airlines have lost as much as N64 billion on account of repatriating $800 million stuck in the economy in the last one year, but released after the recent devaluation of the naira.
Following the devaluation, the accumulated $800 million from airlines’ sales of tickets when the exchange rate was still at N197 to $1, was taken out of the country at the new rate of N320 to $1. Consequently, a substantial amount was lost.
According to sources within the aviation industry, if nothing is done about the inability of the foreign airlines to get the dollar equivalent of the money Emirates will be the next to suspend its operation in Nigeria.
The stakeholders, who would not want their names mentioned, called on the federal government to intervene, as this problem would keep sending a wrong signal to the world if foreign airlines continue suspending operations in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s aviation sector has struggled with the CBN’s numerous forex policies. They also have complained of access to forex which has made their operations more expensive.
The CBN had last week approved a Special Secondary Market Intervention Retail Sales (SMIS) for airlines operating in the country. This important one-off exercise is dedicated to the clearance of the backlog of matured Foreign Exchange obligations
Emirates is Dubai-based airline, United Arab Emirates and a subsidiary of the Emirates Group, which is wholly owned by the government of Dubai’s Investment Corporation of Dubai.
It is the largest airline in the Middle East, operating over 3,600 flights per week from its hub at Dubai International Airport, to more than 154 cities in 81 countries across six continents; even as cargo activities are undertaken by Emirates Sky Cargo.
Similarly, East African carrier Kenya Airways, has announced that it will suspend flights to Abuja with effect from November 15, 2016 as part of its restructuring and loss saving efforts.
Kenya Airways CEO, Mbuvi Ngunze indicated that the airline would however continue to operate its daily flight from Lagos to Nairobi.