Emirates, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) flagship carrier, is set to reduce its frequencies to Lagos from two daily flights to one beginning from July 1.
This is coming barely few weeks after a United States carrier, United Airlines announced that it would cease operations in Nigeria beginning from next month as well. A Spanish carrier, Iberia has also pulled out of the country.
The foreign carriers cited reasons of dwindling passengers, difficulty in repatriation of their trapped funds in Nigeria, among others as reasons for their decisions.
To the dismay of travelers and travel agents, the mega carrier Emirates closed reservation on one of its two daily Dubai – Lagos services, saying the afternoon flight EK781/782 would no longer be available for reservation.
The airline also confirmed the development in response to an enquiry via one of its Twitter handles @EmiratesSupport.
Also reservations and ticketing officials at the airline's office located inside the international wing of Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) confirmed the development to our correspondent.
Also a check on the airline's booking page showed that only one daily flight is now available from Lagos to Dubai. To worsen the matter, passengers have to now pay more booking for Dubai flights on Emirate as some of the cheap rates hitherto displayed on the website have been cancelled.
A senior official at the airline's office at the airport confirmed to Daily Trust that the decision had been communicated to them that beginning from July 1, the flight would be reduced to one per day.
When asked what was responsible for this, the official who pleaded not to be named because he was not authorized to comment on the issue simply said, "It is due to the nation's economy. In fact, you can't even get cheap flights again, you need a minimum of N400,000 to purchase Emirates ticket".
Another staff at Emirates counter said, "What we heard was that they wanted to withdraw one of the aircraft for maintenance but I can tell you that they have reduced the frequencies from two flights daily to one"
Out of all the airlines going to Dubai from Lagos, only Emirates operates direct flight to Dubai which is its base while other airlines like Etihad, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways, Ethiopia and Rwandair stopped over at their countries before taking their passengers to Dubai.