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Trouble in Abuja’s Airspace

Dubai’s Emirates plans to reduce flights to Nigeria this month due to troubles repatriating revenue from Africa’s most populous nation, according to a letter sent to the government. The airline plans to cut the number of flights to Lagos to seven from 11 by mid-August, the letter said, adding it had $85m stuck in the country as of July, a figure that had been rising by $10m per month. Industry observers say more airlines could follow suit if Nigeria’s central bank, which restricts access to foreign currency to tackle a severe dollar shortage, did not address airlines’ issues. Last week, the black market value of the naira versus the United States dollar dropped to a record low. The central bank said it was worried about the naira’s worth. Nigeria, which gets roughly 90 percent of its foreign exchange from oil, is struggling to produce due to pipeline theft and years of underinvestment. Amid similar foreign exchange restrictions in 2016, several airlines reduced flights and carriers Iberia and United Airlines stopped flying to Nigeria altogether. United re-launched a Nigerian service last year, but Iberia has yet to return.