Quartz is reporting that Emirates airlines is considering pulling out of Nigeria. It is already cutting its twice-daily flights to Lagos and Abuja from Dubai to once a day to Lagos only, starting at the end of October. United Airlines ended its service from the United States to Nigeria in May. Domestic airlines are also facing difficulty. Quartz reports that Aero Contractors, Nigeria’s oldest airline and long regarded as its most reliable, has suspended operations. Quartz also reports that many domestic passengers have been stranded because local airlines have not been able to refuel their planes because of a shortage of jet fuel.
Civil aviation challenges reflect Nigeria’s current economic recession, a result of low international oil prices and a cut in Nigeria’s production because of an insurgency in the oil-rich delta. The Nigerian government has adopted currency controls that make it difficult to repatriate dollar profits. Shortages of jet fuel is a periodic problem, even in more prosperous times.
Nigeria has faced such challenges before, notably during the military administration of Ibrahim Babangida when a two-tiered exchange rate greatly reduced the profits of foreign carriers. Nevertheless, in normal times, routes between Nigeria and the Persian Gulf and Europe are very profitable. Hence, European airlines strive to maintain a presence when times are bad. As such, British Airways, AirFrance, KLM, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Delta have not cut service, at least for now.