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Emirates announces flight resumption in Nigeria


Emirates Airlines has announced that it will resume flight services to Nigeria from 1 October, after over a year it suspended operations in the country due to difficulties encountered in repatriating trapped funds.

In a statement published on its website on Thursday, the airline announced that it would resume daily service between Lagos and Dubai, offering customers more choice and connectivity from Nigeria’s largest city to and through Dubai.

“The service will be operated using a Boeing 777-300ER. EK783 will depart Dubai at 0945hrs, arriving in Lagos at 1520hrs; the return flight EK784 will leave Lagos at 1730hrs and arrive in Dubai at 0510hrs the next day,” the statement said.

According to the statement, tickets can now be booked on the airline’s website or via travel agents.

The announcement by the airline came after Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Festus Keyamo, paid a working visit to the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Nigeria in Abuja.

“Yesterday, I paid a working visit to the Ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, His Excellency, Salem Saeed Al-Shamsi at the UAE Embassy in Abuja,” the minister said in a tweet posted on his X handle Wednesday.

During the visit, he said Mr Al-Shamsi handed a correspondence from the Emirates Airline indicating a definite date of resumption of flights to Nigeria.



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“That date will be formally announced by Emirates Airlines in a matter of days,” he said.

On Thursday, Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ Deputy President and Chief Commercial Officer said the airline is excited to resume services to Nigeria.

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Mr Kazim said the Lagos-Dubai service has traditionally been popular with customers in Nigeria and that the airline hopes to reconnect leisure and business travellers to Dubai and onwards to its network of over 140 destinations.

“We thank the Nigerian government for their partnership and support in re-establishing this route and we look forward to welcoming passengers back onboard,” the statement quoted him saying.

Background

In November 2022, Emirates suspended flights to Nigeria. It said the measure started on 29 October 2022 and blamed it on its inability to repatriate its revenue from the country.

At the time, the airline said it had communicated its position to the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Under these extraordinary circumstances, Emirates had no option but to suspend flights to/from Nigeria from 29 October 2022 to mitigate against further losses moving forward,” the airline management said.

At the time, Emirates lamented that it had not repatriated its blocked funds from the country amidst lingering scarcity of forex in the country.

“Without the timely repatriation of the funds and a mechanism in place to ensure that future repatriation of Emirates’ funds do not accumulate in any way, the backlog will continue to grow, and we simply cannot meet our operational costs nor maintain the commercial viability of our operations in Nigeria,” the airline said.

In March, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that the government has cleared all ‘valid’ foreign exchange backlogs.

Operation schedules

With the resumption of operations to Nigeria, Emirates said it would operate to 19 gateways in Africa with 157 flights per week from Dubai, with further reach to an additional 130 regional points in Africa through its codeshare and interline partnerships with South African Airways, Airlink, Royal Air Maroc, Tunis Air, among others.

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“As a major economic hub in Africa, Nigeria and the UAE have built strong bilateral trade relations over the years, headlined by Lagos as the nation’s commercial centre,” the airline said.

With the resumption of daily passenger flights, Emirates said the airline’s cargo arm, Emirates SkyCargo, will further bolster the trade relationship by offering more than 300 tonnes of bellyhold cargo capacity, in and out of Lagos every week.

“Emirates SkyCargo will support Nigerian businesses by exporting their goods via its state-of-the-art hub in Dubai, into key markets such as the UAE, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Bahrain, among others with key anticipated commodities such as Kola Nuts, food and beverages, and urgent courier material,” the statement said.

Additionally, the Airline said Emirates SkyCargo will also import vital goods such as pharmaceuticals and electronics as well as general cargo from key markets such as the UAE, India and Hong Kong.

“Keeping trade flowing seamlessly, these goods will be transported quickly, efficiently, and reliably via the airline’s multi-vertical specialised product portfolio,” Emirates said.

It said the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER serving Lagos will operate with eight First Class suites, 42 Business Class seats, and 304 seats in Economy Class.



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