Unable To Repatriate $85m, Emirates Set To Reduce Operations In Nigeria

Emirates Airlines
File: The Emirates Airlines plane.

 

 

Emirates Airlines has said it will reduce its flight operations to Nigeria due to its inability to repatriate about $85 million in revenue.

The airline made this known in a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

The letter, dated July 22, was signed by Emirates airline’s divisional senior vice-president (DSVP), international affairs, Sheik Majid Al Mualla.

Emirates said the planned reductions in its operations in Nigeria would take effect from August 15.

It added that flights would be reduced from 11 per week to seven at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA).

“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,” the letter said.

“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.

“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, we also have to send hard currency into Nigeria to sustain our own operation. Meanwhile, our revenues are out of reach, and 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. Our Senior Vice-President met with the Deputy Governor of the CBN in May and followed up on the meeting by letter to the Governor himself the following month, however no positive response was received.

“Meetings were also held with Emirates’ own bank in Nigeria and in collaboration with IATA to discuss improving FX allocation, but with limited success. Despite our considerable efforts, the situation continues to deteriorate. We are now in the unfortunate position of having to cut flights, to mitigate against further losses going forward.”

“We are confident that your valuable involvement would make a real difference in improving this very difficult situation. Should there be any positive development in the coming days, we will, of course, re-evaluate this decision.”

 

Emirates Resumes Flights From Five African Countries, Excludes Nigeria

File photo of Emirates airplane used to illustrate the story. PHOTO: Twitter/@Emirates

 

Flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Emirates Airlines, has announced the resumption of passenger flight operations to five African countries but Nigeria was not on the list.

The African countries on the list include Ghana, Guinea, Angola, Ivory Coast, and Uganda.

Emirates in an update on its website announced that it has resumed flights between the African countries after an earlier ban due to the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus.

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“From 13 January 2022, Emirates will resume passenger services to and from Guinea (CKY), Cote d’Ivoire (ABJ), Ghana (ACC), Uganda (EBB), and Angola (LAD),” the update read.

 

In a travel update posted on its website, Emirates indicated that the lifting of travel restrictions placed on Ghana, Guinea, and three other African countries took effect on Thursday.

However, flights from Nigeria and some other countries remain suspended.

“Customers with bookings to and from the following points will not be accepted for travel, until further notice. Republic of Kenya (NBO), Lusaka (LUN), Harare (HRE), Lagos (LOS), Abuja (ABV), and Casablanca (CMN),” the update added.

The airline, earlier in December 2021 indefinitely suspended the entry of travellers from Nigeria and some selected African countries over the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

It later extended the flight ban to other countries including Ghana, Angola, Guinea, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

FG Reinstates Emirates’ Flight Schedule To Nigeria

Emirates Airlines
File: The Emirates Airlines plane conveying the 292 evacuated Nigerians from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates arrive the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on June 19, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has reinstated Emirates’ winter flight schedule to Nigeria following the offering of daily slots to Air Peace at the Dubai Airports, DXB.

This is contained in a letter to the Emirates Country Manager, Nigeria signed by the Director-General, NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu dated 21st December 2021.

The letter read, “Following further consultation with various stakeholders and the letter from the Dubai CAA with reference number DCAA/ASA/N-3/016 dated 17th December 2021 offering Air peace airlines daily slots at Dubai airports, I wish to inform you the reinstatement of the Ministerial approval of Emirates Airlines winter schedule”.

“This approval is predicated on compliance with Dubai travel protocols as released by the Dubai airports on Friday 26th November as it affects passengers.”

Last week, the Federal Government reduced emirates airlines entry into Nigeria to once a week through Abuja airport and suspended from the Lagos following the refusal of the Dubai CAA and the Dubai Airports to grant Air Peace 3 slots it requested out of the 21 frequencies as agreed in the Bi-lateral Air Services Agreement, BASA signed by both countries.

This development prompted Emirates airlines to suspend its operation in Nigeria.

Why We Withdrew Frequencies Approval For Emirates Airlines – NCAA

A file photo of an Emirates Airlines

 

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has explained why it withdrew the ministerial approval granted to Emirates Airlines by the Ministry of Aviation.

Director-General of the NCAA, Musa Shuaibu Nuhu, in a statement on Friday said that it withdrew the approval following the refusal of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to grant equal rights to the sole Nigerian carrier, Air Peace flying to Dubai via Sharjah.

An airline frequency refers to how many services an airline may provide within a set period, usually on shorter routes between two large urban destinations.

Nuhu explained that the aviation minister, Sen. Hadi Sirika had granted Emirates Airlines 21 frequencies weekly to two major airports in Nigeria; Lagos, 14 and Abuja, seven.

He, however, explained that despite the approval, the GCAA refused to grant Air Peace three weekly frequencies to Sharjah, which the airline requested for, but rather approved just one frequency weekly.

According to him, the GCAA had attributed its refusal to grant the three frequencies to the airline to inadequate slots in the Sharjah airport, stressing that the government would continue to protect Nigeria’s businesses.

The withdrawal is expected to take effect from December 12, allowing Emirates Airlines to fly into Abuja just once weekly on Thursdays, while its Lagos flight has been suspended.

Emirates Airlines Announces Resumption Of Services In Nigeria After 10 Months

Emirates Airlines
File: The Emirates Airlines plane conveying the 292 evacuated Nigerians from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates arrive the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on June 19, 2020.

 

Emirates Airlines will resume its passenger operations between Dubai and Nigeria on 5th December 2021.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrier made this known via a statement issued on Thursday.

The resumption of services comes 10 months after the carrier suspended flights to Nigeria after a diplomatic row between the two countries over COVID-19 protocols.

“Emirates will resume its passenger operations between Dubai and Nigeria from 5 December 2021, offering customers enhanced connectivity to and through Dubai,” the airline said.

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“The world’s largest international airline will operate to and from its Nigerian gateways with daily flights, providing travellers from Nigeria convenient access to Dubai, which remains a highly popular holiday and business destination. It’ll also enable travellers to safely connect via Dubai to the Emirates network of over 120 global destinations.

“Emirates will operate to Abuja with EK 785 and 786. EK 785 will depart Dubai at 1100hrs, arriving in Abuja at 1540hrs. The return flight, EK 786 will take off from Abuja at 1900, arriving in Dubai at 0435hrs the next day.

“Emirates flight EK 783 to Lagos will depart Dubai at 1030hrs, arriving in Lagos at 1540hrs. The return flight EK 784 will depart Lagos at 1810hrs, arriving in Dubai at 0415hrs the next day. All flights can be booked on emirates.com, with OTAs and via travel agents.

“Throughout the pandemic, Emirates has been helping its customers travel safely and confidently, implementing industry-leading health and safety measures at every point of the travel journey, helping communities reconnect faster and facilitating economic recovery.

“The airline has also been working hard to provide up to date, comprehensive travel information to its customers, as well as speeding up processes on the ground through digital verification for Covid-19  via the IATA Travel Pass, as well as touchless check-in and biometrics processing.”

FG Suspends Emirates Flights From Nigeria

In this file photo taken on June 26, 2015 an Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft sits on the tarmac at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake. Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP
File photo of an Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft. PHOTO: Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP

 

The Federal Government has placed a 72-hour suspension on outbound Emirates flights from Nigeria.

This is contained in a circular issued on February 4 by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

The circular states that the suspension followed a violation of guidelines placed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

According to the circular signed by NCAA director-general, Musa Nuhu, the airline has been airlifting passengers from Nigeria using rapid antigen tests conducted by laboratories not approved by regulatory authorities.

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“Based on the foregoing and to enable the Nigerian government to put in place the needed infrastructure and logistics for COVID-19 RDT testing for departing passengers, the PTF has directed that Emirates Airlines should either accept passengers without RDT pending when the infrastructure and logistics are put in place or suspend its flights to and from Nigeria until such a time when the required infrastructure and logistics are fully established and implemented.

“Emirates Airlines has not been in compliance with the two options given by the PTF as records obtained from Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) indicates that Emirates Airlines operated the flights from both Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja” the circular read in part.

The NCAA said additional sanctions would be imposed on Emirates Airlines for the violations of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and COVID-19 protocols.

It also noted that the airline will be informed as to when to resume operations.

Emirates Airlines Records First Loss In Three Decades

In this file photo taken on June 26, 2015 an Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft sits on the tarmac at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake. Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP
In this file photo taken on June 26, 2015, an Emirates Airbus A380 aircraft sits on the tarmac at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake. Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP

 

Dubai-based Emirates airline on Thursday posted its first loss in more than three decades, saying it had been badly hit by the coronavirus lockdown that brought air transport to “a literal standstill”. 

The Middle East’s largest carrier said it suffered a $3.4 billion loss in the six months to September, forcing it to slash its workforce.

“In this unprecedented situation for the aviation and travel industry, the Emirates Group recorded a half-year loss for the first time in over 30 years,” the airline’s chairman and chief executive, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement.

“No one can predict the future, but we expect a steep recovery in travel demand once a Covid-19 vaccine is available, and we are readying ourselves to serve that rebound.”

The airline, which had to temporarily suspend operations earlier this year before building back its vast network, saw revenue fall 75 percent to $3.2 billion.

Over the half-year to September, it carried just 1.5 million passengers, down 95 percent from the same period last year.

The carrier said that its bottom line found some support with a “strong cargo business” as it repurposed its fleet to accommodate the need for supplies around the globe, including medical equipment.

“As passenger traffic disappeared, Emirates and (air services arm) dnata have been able to rapidly pivot to serve cargo demand and other pockets of opportunity,” Sheikh Ahmed said.

“This has helped us recover our revenues from zero to 26 percent of our position same time last year.”

The airline has announced several rounds of layoffs, without disclosing numbers.

In Thursday’s statement, it said that the Emirates Group’s employee base — which includes ground-handling firm Dnata — “is substantially reduced by 24 percent to an overall count of 81,334 as at 30 September 2020.

“This is in line with the company’s expected capacity and business activities in the foreseeable future and general industry outlook,” it said.

Before the virus hit, Emirates airline alone employed some 60,000 staff, including 4,300 pilots and nearly 22,000 cabin crew, according to its annual report.

Tourism has long been an economic mainstay of Dubai, which welcomed more than 16 million visitors last year. Before the pandemic, the aim was to reach 20 million this year.

Previously, Emirates served a global network spanning over 158 destinations in 84 countries. Currently, it flies to 99 destinations.

 

AFP

FG Grants Approval For Emirates Airlines To Operate In Nigeria

Muritala Muhammed International airport

 

The Federal Government has agreed to lift the ban placed on Emirates Airlines, which prevented it from operating in and out of the country.

According to a statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu on Wednesday, the development was based on an undertaking by the authorities of the United Arabs Emirates (UAE).

The statement quoted the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, to have said that the commencement of the airline’s operations would depend on the commencement of visa issuance by the UAE.

“UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently, decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria.

Commencement of the Visa issuance is condition precedent. Please bear with this unusual situation.”

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Speaking further, the Minister appreciated the understanding of everyone who has been negatively affected by the recent policy decisions which forbade some airlines from operating into the country when Nigeria reopened its air space to international flights.

The decisions, according to him, were taken to protect the interests of the nation and its citizens who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, same Nigeria treats other nationals.

Emirates Airlines was initially given approval to operate into the country, an approval which was withdrawn following the inability of Nigerians to obtain/use valid tourist visas to enter the UAE.