"We need their service, but they need our market more," Haidi Sirika told a senate committee on Wednesday.
Following Emirates’ decision to suspend its Nigerian services late last month, Nigerian Aviation Minister Sirika has urged the Dubai-based flag carrier to exercise restraint with its current approach, as reported by Vanguard.
Speaking at a Senate Committee for Aviation led by Senator Biodun Olujimi earlier this week, Sirika highlighted the ongoing financial crisis within the country triggered by COVID-19 and the recession, slamming Emirates’ decision to stop flights despite having signed an agreement.
“Almost all countries except UAE understood, and we are trying to pay this money, but my concern is that countries go through war and problems, and there should be mutual understanding with each other,” said Sirika.
“We need their service, but they need our market more. We are assuring them that the money will be paid, but they should exercise restraint and treat Nigeria with value.”
It is the latest in a dispute between several international carriers and the Nigerian government following a lack of foreign currency trapping over $700 million in revenue within the country.
Emirates paused flights to Lagos on October 29 after attempting to repatriate at least 80% of its $85 million blocked funds. In a media statement provided to Reuters, the carrier confirmed that ‘extraordinary circumstances’ had led it to implement measures to mitigate further losses within the country.
Sirika continued, emphasizing the importance of Nigeria’s rapidly developing aviation industry for the airline, adding that Emirates needs to treat Nigeria like a sovereign and a market.