• en

IATA: Foreign Airlines’ Trapped Funds in Nigeria Has Risen to $812m

The world body urged governments to abide by international agreements and treaties to enable airlines repatriate funds.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has confirmed that foreign airlines’ revenue not yet repatriated from Nigeria has risen to $812.2 million.

This was disclosed by the IATA’s Regional Vice-President, Africa and Middle East, Kamil Al- Awadhi, at the on-going 79th AGM and World Air Transport Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

He warned that rapidly rising levels of blocked funds were a threat to airlines’ connectivity in the affected markets, disclosing that the global industry’s blocked funds increased by 47 per cent to $2.27 billion in April 2023, from $1.55 billion in April 2022. 

IATA said the top five countries accounted for 68 per cent of blocked funds. These included Nigeria ($812.2 million), Bangladesh ($214.1 million), Algeria ($196.3 million), Pakistan ($188.2 million), Lebanon ($141.2 million) and Ethiopia ($126 million).

Al- Awadhi explained that the countries with the trapped funds were unable to pay the airlines for different reasons, stating that Nigeria had been responsive in helping the airlines repatriate their revenues, but may have delayed due to the transition to a new government from the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

He expressed hope that before the end of one month, the President Bola Tinubu’s administration would facilitate airlines to repatriate 50 per cent of the trapped revenue and in the next six months complete the repatriation of all the funds.

Al- Awadhi lamented that after the COVID-19 airlines came out with little cash so, “they are in dire need of operational funds; therefore, holding down their revenue is pulling them down.”

The world body urged governments to abide by international agreements and treaties to enable airlines repatriate funds arising from the sale of tickets, cargo space, and other activities.

Also reacting to the trapped funds, IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh said, “Airlines cannot continue to offer services in markets where they are unable to repatriate the revenues arising from their commercial activities in those markets.

“Governments need to work with industry to resolve this situation so airlines can continue to provide the connectivity that is vital to driving economic activity and job creation.”

Appraising airlines’ performance in Africa and Middle East, Al- Awadhi said there have been improvement in air transport in Africa and Middle East, especially in the Middle East and disclosed that IATA has prioritised areas it would help to boost air transportation in the continent.

IATA said it would help airlines in Africa improve their operational safety through a data-driven collaborative programme to reduce safety incidents and accidents, in the air and on ground.

It said it would facilitate the growth of efficient, secure and cost-effective aviation infrastructure.

In the area of connectivity, IATA said it would promote the liberalisation of intra-African market access through the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

Chinedu Eze

Follow us on: