The International Air Transport Association has said that the total foreign airlines’ fund trapped in Nigeria has increased to $283million (about N117.6bn).
This is an increase from $147 million (N61 billion) which it recorded in August 2021.
Finding showed that the money accumulated from the sale of tickets by about 30 airlines flying to the country.
In line with the bilateral air service agreements (BASAs) with countries, airline tickets are mostly sold in naira while the airlines would repatriate the funds in dollars through the country’s central bank.
The federal government under Muhammadu Buhari administration had in 2018 cleared $600m blocked funds but the figure began growing with IATA lamenting the blockade.
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, confirmed the new figure of $283m when he spoke in Lagos during the commissioning of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) New terminal.
He said, “Mr President, the aviation business suffers from issues of access to foreign exchange by local and foreign airlines and the ability to repatriate blocked funds.
“Nigeria currently holds $283m of foreign airlines funds blocked in the country. I would like to humbly request the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria, through the directive of Mr President, to prioritize access to forex for all carriers both local and foreign and to work out a mechanism to clear the existing backlog urgently and prevent subsequent build up.”
IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh, had recently said the blockade of airline revenues “contravenes international conventions and could slow the recovery of travel and tourism in affected markets as the airline industry struggles to recover from the COVID-19 crisis