Barring any last minute change, international airline, the Emirate will suspend its operations in Nigeria from October, 22nd due to irregularities in foreign currency repatriation policy. Speaking on the challenges currently facing the airline, concerned stakeholders in the aviation sector lamented the inability of the foreign airlines to get the dollar equivalent of the money and noted that if nothing is done to resolve the problem, Emirate 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 in this problem as it would send a wrong signal to the world if foreign airlines keep suspending operations in Nigeria. 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. Emirates airline operates a mixed fleet of Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft and is one of the few airlines to operate an all-wide-body aircraft fleet. It would be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (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.
Meanwhile, the minister of state for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika had described the special intervention by the CBN as a great relief for airline operators in the country who have complained bitterly over their inability to access the required Foreign Exchange to settle their backlog of obligations which has adversely affected their operations. According to the minister, the aviation sector is so critical to the nation’s security and global image that it cannot be overlooked or toyed with, saying that the apex bank has taken the right decision that would not only strengthen existing airlines, but also inspire confidence in aspiring operators in Nigeria’s aviation industry.