By Adebayo Williams
The Emirates Airline’s management have said that they are considering cutting or completely stopping flight operations to some parts of Africa especially Nigeria. The airline’s president Tim Clark, told Reuters on Tuesday that flying to Nigeria had become increasingly expensive as jets have to fuel in Accra, Ghana’s capital, before plying the lucrative Abuja route to avoid the country’s battles with hard currency shortage. He said the airline had already cut its Abuja and Lagos flights to just once from the usual twice.
“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.
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria had, last week, approved a Special Secondary Market Intervention Retail Sales (SMIS) for airlines operating in the country. The exercise is aimed at clearing the backlog of matured foreign exchange obligations. The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had said that the CBN’s initiative would greatly be of benefit to airlines that have complained of shortage of foreign exchange.