According to a BusinessDay report, flight operations from Nigeria to Dubai are anticipated to resume in December following the federal government’s approval to release a portion of the blocked funds for Emirates and Etihad Airlines.
According to reliable sources, the funds trapped for Etihad and Emirates are currently being reimbursed, with Emirates’ amount decreasing from $85 million to $12 million. However, this has incurred a loss due to the depreciation of the naira against the dollar (from N489/$ at the time of suspension to N789/$ today) during the airlines’ operational hiatus.
BusinessDay’s investigations indicate that the repatriation of the trapped funds is linked to the removal of the visa ban. Agreements addressing these issues are expected to be finalized during COP28, scheduled for December in Dubai.
In October 2022, the immigration authorities of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced a visa application ban for Nigerians. Subsequently, one month later, Emirates suspended its flight operations to Nigeria for the second time that year, citing difficulties in repatriating its $85 million revenue stuck in the country.
“While the visa ban continues, a few Nigerians still get visas to Dubai especially those travelling for business purposes or those attending conferences for few days. The visa ban affects those travelling for vacation or tourist and these constitute over 80 per cent of travellers to Dubia,” Gina Chika, a travel consultant told BusinessDay.
Recall that there was a tentative agreement to address both the visa ban and the repatriation of funds trapped for the airlines when President Bola Tinubu had a meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum over a month ago. However, the media aide of President Tinubu, Ajuri Ngelale, declared that the ban would be lifted, and flights would resume immediately.
This announcement drew disapproval from the Emirates and the UAE government, as they were displeased with the Federal Government’s decision to prematurely disclose the information to the press.