FG asks Emirates and other airlines not to cut flights

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ABUJA, OCTOBER 26, 2016 – Nigeria has appealed to Emirates and other airlines not to scale down operations in the West African country, arguing it was attempting to deal with a currency crisis and fuel shortages that have hit airlines’ operations.Emirates last week said it will suspend its four times a week service between Dubai and Abuja from Oct. 30.

Nigeria’s Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika said he had told an Emirates west African executive that the government was aware of the challenges affecting airlines and was working hard to resolve them.

He said he had asked Emirates and other airlines to reconsider their decisions due to the impact on customers.

Nigeria’s naira has plunged in value against the U.S. dollar this year due to the impact of low oil prices and a central bank move in June to scrap a dollar peg.

Domestic and international carriers have struggled with the plunge in the naira, which has made bills for imported jet fuel more expensive and squeezed profit margins as many passengers pay in the local currency.

Kenya Airways has also announced plans to suspend flights to Abuja by next month. United and Iberia both stopped services to Nigeria earlier this year.

Both Emirates and Kenya Airways will continue to serve Nigeria with a flights to and from the country’s most populous city and commercial capital, Lagos.

To avert a full currency crisis, the central bank has held a two-month dollar forward auction to clear a backlog of demand from airlines and other companies.

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