Emirates will resume some flights to Nigeria in September after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released part of the FX backlog to the airline. Last month, Dubai Emirates announced a decision to stop flights to Lagos due to its inability to repatriate $85million earned in Nigeria.
An airline spokesperson said flights to Lagos will resume from September 11, 2022, though it is not possible to resume flights to Abuja in September because resources had already been stood down.
“We continue to engage with the Nigerian authorities to ensure the repatriation of our outstanding and future funds may continue without hindrance,” the spokesperson said, welcoming what it said was the central bank’s move to release a portion of its blocked funds.
The airline did not say how much money had been released or how much remained blocked. The state-owned carrier last month announced it was suspending all flights to Nigeria from Sept. 1 after it said it had made no progress with local authorities to access its funds.
Nigeria’s Central Bank later said it had released $265 million to airlines to settle outstanding ticket sales. The apex bank has continued to reduce foreign currency repatriation as a way to curb the naira from falling freely in the FX markets.
The local currency has lost enough weight amidst demand pressure at a time when the nation’s dollar earnings have been reduced as foreign investors exit the local market.
Some analysts believe that the CBN FX backlog is about half of Nigeria’s gross external reserves which stood at $39 billion.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the largest airline group, had said that by July Nigeria was blocking airlines from repatriating $464 million in revenue, according to Reuters.
Nigerian banks’ market valuations have dropped significantly, and it appears few of the players have been spared in selloffs in the local bourse. Few gains were driven by small-cap banks in the tier-2 category.