Nigeria's president orders immediate resolution to disagreement with Emirates Airline

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Nigeria's President Bola Tinubu waves at a crowd, during his swearing-in ceremony in Abuja

By Felix Onuah

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's president, Bola Tinubu, has ordered an immediate resolution to disagreements with Emirates Airline and visa issuance by the United Arab Emirates, the president's spokesman said on Thursday.

The UAE stopped issuing visas to Nigerians last year after Dubai's Emirates suspended flights due to an inability to repatriate funds from Africa's biggest economy.

Tinubu's office said in a statement on Thursday that he met with the UAE's ambassador to Nigeria, Salem Saeed Al-Shamsi, and that Tinubu is prepared to "personally" intervene in the dispute.

"We must work together. We need to agree on core aviation and immigration issues," Tinubu said in the statement.

Al-Shamsi was quoted in the same statement as saying; "We are getting somewhere. These are small issues, all within a family, and they will be resolved."

Emirates Airline said in March it has "substantial" revenue trapped in Nigeria and has made slow progress in repatriating the blocked funds.

Nigeria has withheld at least $743 million in revenue earned by international carriers operating in the country, global airline industry association IATA said in March.

Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer, faces shortages of foreign currency despite some reforms.

The dollar shortages have made it difficult for some foreign

airlines that sold tickets in the Nigerian naira currency to get their money out of the country.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo and Matthew Lewis)