The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released $425 million out of $600 million trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines that flies into the country.
The funds are accruing from ticket sales of foreign airlines which had since been repatriated to their home country.
For two years, the problem had persisted due to paucity of foreign exchange.
IATA’s area manager, South West, Dr. Samson Fatokun who disclosed this at a press conference in Lagos recently said the balance $ 175 million is still awaited from the CBN.
He said the non-remittance of this funds was really affecting the operations of the airlines as the money was not their profit but covers their operational cost which include: aircraft maintenance, training, simulator, payment of staff among others.
The IATA representative noted that this situation had forced many airlines in the past to terminate their operations into Nigeria due to non-remittance of their money for sale of tickets.
Dr. Fatokun appealed to the government and the CBN to accelerate the release of the funds as done by some African countries, including Egypt where the entire blocked funds have been released.
IATA’s president, Africa and the Middle East, Mohammad Ali Albakri commended the present administration for the introduction of visa on arrival.
He noted this would help to boost trade between Nigeria and other countries of the world, create more jobs as well as increase passenger traffic to the country and boost tourism.
Ali Albakri said though, Nigerian government is doing enough to accelerate aviation growth; it needs to strengthen the framework for regulation, safety and airports infrastructure upgrade.
He further pointed out that the global aviation body is working on a document that would bring about lower airport taxes, levies and charges that uses International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standards for industry engagement.
‘‘Air transport in Nigeria supports more than 650,800 jobs including tourism related employment, while contributing US$8.2 billion to the country’s GDP. Despite significant investment in Nigeria’s aviation sector, the country’s air transport infrastructure still ranks low among African states. IATA recognizes and supports the positive developments by the government on infrastructure and aviation processes”, Ali Albakri said.