$175m of foreign airlines’ fund still trapped in Nigeria – IATA- Business Day
Published August 3, 2017

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Wednesday said over $175 million accruing from ticket sales by foreign carriers was still trapped in Nigeria due to paucity of foreign exchange.

The global airlines body said the non-remittance of such funds was having negative impact on the operations of the affected carriers, as the blocked funds constitute operating costs for them.

Speaking at a briefing in Lagos, IATA area manager, Samson Fatokun, South West Africa, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to accelerate the process that could enable the affected carriers access the funds to ease their business.

Fatokun said though the CBN had tried to bring the blocked funds from $600 million last June to about $175 million as of June 2017, a lot could still be done to clean out the entire sum.

He said Nigeria could accelerate the release of the funds as done by some African countries like Egypt, where the entire blocked funds had been released, saying the negative impact of withholding airlines funds could have ripple effects on the entire aviation value chain, like some airlines that pulled out last year.

He said Iberia and United Airlines pulled out of Nigeria last year because of issues bordering on blocked funds, noting that IATA was worried over rising airport and air navigational charges, taxes and levies affecting the capacity of airlines in Nigeria.
IATA, he said, will continue to engage aviation authorities, governments and regulators on how to achieve a win-win to enable air travel serve as a catalyst for economic growth.

Also speaking, Muhammad Ali Albakri, IATA regional vice president, Africa and Middle East, said more jobs could be created and economic growth achieved in Nigeria and West Africa if governments utilise aviation as a pillar of recovery and national development.
Albakri is in Nigeria to have series of meetings with stakeholders on modalities to move the sector forward.

He said though Nigerian government was doing enough to accelerate aviation growth, it needs to strengthen the framework for regulation, safety and airports infrastructure upgrade.