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Nigerian Government Scam Causes Emirates Airline to React

, Nigerian Government Scam Causes Emirates Airline to React, eTurboNews | eTN

The aviation industry is deprived of much-needed cash as some countries continue to block the repatriation of airline funds from ticket sales.

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Who can get away with legal theft? You have to be the government.

Last month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Nigeria was withholding revenue worth about $450 million earned by foreign airlines operating in the country.  This is especially dangerous when trying to relaunch African Tourism and global aviation past COVID-19.

The problem is not just isolated to Africa. Bangladesh, Lebanon, and others are part of this global scam creating uncertainty for international airlines and global aviation.

However, Africa seems to be the most insecure region in the world when it comes to airlines able to collect on local sales.
Twelve countries in Africa are involved in this scam.
Nigeria, as a massive African economy, is the worst violated and owes about $450 million to foreign airline carriers.

Zimbabwe follows this with $100 million, Algeria with 96 million, Eritrea with 79 million, and Ethiopia with 75 million.

So far, only Alain St. Ange, Vice President of the World Tourism Network, urged Governments to keep their reputation in not allowing this action against foreign airline carriers. “Confidence in the market and Governments is essential for airlines to consider new international destinations.” St. Ange was a former minister in charge of aviation in Seychelles.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed Nigeria is withholding about $450 million in revenue from foreign airlines operating in the country.

Kamil Al Awadhi, vice-president for Africa and the Middle East, IATA, recently said this at its 78th annual general meeting and world air transport summit in Doha, Qatar.

The Dubai-based Emirates Airlines is now taking a step to reduce services to its operation in Nigeria. A reduced schedule would kick in as of August 15, 2022.

This is bad news for Nigeria and African connectivity, pricing, and tourism.

The airline said this in a letter addressed to Hadi Sirika, minister of aviation, dated July 22, 2020, and signed by Sheik Majid Al Mualla, Emirates airline’s divisional senior vice-president (DSVP), international affairs.

The exact wording of the letter by Emirates to the Nigerian Government:

, Nigerian Government Scam Causes Emirates Airline to React, eTurboNews | eTN

Honorable Minister of Aviation
Federal Ministry of Aviation
Annex 3, Federal Secretarial Complex
Shehu Shagari Way
Maitama, Abuja

Your Excellency,

Greetings from Dubai. We trust this letter finds you well.
It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform you of planned reductions in Emirates’ operations to Nigeria.

With effect from 15 August 2022, Emirates will be forced to reduce flights from Dubai to Lagos from 11 per week to 7 per week. We have had no choice but to take this action to mitigate the continued losses Emirates is experiencing as a result of funds being blocked in Nigeria.

As of July 2022, Emirates has US$ 85 million of funds awaiting repatriation from Nigeria. This figure has been rising by more than $US 10 million every month, as the ongoing operational costs of our 11 weekly flights to Lagos and 5 to Abuja continue to accumulate.

These funds are urgently needed to meet our ope.rational costs and maintain the commercial viability of our services to Nigeria. We simply cannot continue to operate at the current level in the face of mounting losses, especially in the challenging post-COVID-19 climate.

Emirates did try to stem the losses by proposing to pay for fuel in Nigeria in Nairas, which would have at least reduced one element of our ongoing costs, however, this request was denied by the supplier.

This means that not only are Emirates’ revenues accumulating, but we also have to send hard currency into Nigeria to sustain our own operation. Meanwhile, our revenues are out of reach, not even earning credit interest.

Your Excellency, this is not a decision we have taken lightly. Indeed, we have made every effort to work with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to find a solution to this issue.

About the author


Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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