Nigeria: Emirates May Cut Nigeria Flights, Economic Challenges

Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Nigeria.
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Foreign airlines flying to Nigeria have started to refuel abroad because jet fuel supplies are expensive and scarce.

14 airlines have shut down operations in Nigeria as recession persists.
These airlines, which includes Iberia, United Airlines and Air Gambia, are among the 50 that operated Nigerian routes just a few months ago before the recession hit hard.

Apart from that, Africa-Online reports, foreign airlines operating in the country are estimated to have lost about N64 billion since the start of the new forex policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Emirates airline could reduce the frequency of its flights to African cities or cut routes completely if current economic and financial challenges on the continent continue, President Tim Clark told reporters on Tuesday.

Foreign airlines flying to Nigeria have started to refuel abroad because jet fuel supplies there have become more expensive and scarce as the country battles a hard currency shortage.

Emirates has started a detour to Accra, Ghana to refuel its daily Abuja-bound flight, a spokesman said last month; the airline had already cut its twice-daily flights to Lagos and Abuja to just one.

“In certain African countries, the currencies have really gone down, so we’re reflecting on a number of these to look at where it’s just not worth us to travel,” Clark said on the sidelines of an International Air Transport Association event.

He added that Emirates’ load factor – a measure of capacity utitlisation – for the rest of 2016 and 2017 would probably be in the mid-70s to low-80s in percentage terms, although there would be some peaks and troughs in that time.

The new forex policy and the bad state of the economy came with a substantial negative effect on airlines, which is why many have decided to exit the country.

Last year, the Buhari-led administration, through the CBN, introduced fiscal policies which was restricting access to foreign exchange and funds transfer out of the country.