Emirates, the United Arab Emirates
airline may soon join a growing list of international flyers that have
boycotted hitherto lucrative Nigerian routes.
This according to the company’s
president, Tim Clark, is because of outstanding $680 million sales proceeds,
which it has not been able to repatriate because of scarce foreign exchange.
To be sure however, Nigerian routes
are not the only ones being considered for axing by the largest international
flight operator as other African countries with faltering economies following
the oil-price collapse.
The biggest carrier on
international routes may “cut frequencies and possibly even cities” amid the currency
crunch and commercial difficulties in some markets, President Tim Clark said
Tuesday in Dubai, where Emirates is based.
“Certain African countries have
seen their currency really go down, it’s not a very good idea to continue
there,” Clark said in a briefing at an International Air Transport Association
event. “We are reflecting on a number of those.”
Nigeria alone owed Emirates $680
million as of early September, Clark has said previously, with carriers
including United Airlines and Spain’s Iberia having already halted flights.
The repatriation of dollars from
Africa’s most populous nation has been limited since the drop in crude prices
eroded the value of oil exports and reduced foreign-currency reserves to the
lowest in more than a decade. The devaluation of the naira in June has yet to
ease the situation.
IATA has said that the dollar
reserves of Sudan, Egypt and Angola are also of concern to its members.
Emirates serves all three countries, as well as Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria,
though Clark didn’t specify which markets were most at risk of having flights
U.S. carriers have separately asked
that the federal government grant them permission to collectively discuss ways
of retrieving $3.8 billion held back in Venezuela, which has virtually halted
the repatriation of past ticket sales in response to the oil-price pinch.
At least 14 airlines have earlier
withdrawn their services from the country due to low patronage arising from