The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emeifile has said foreign airlines will be paid as the delay is temporal.
He gave the assurance at a meeting with Aviation industry stakeholders’ meeting with the Speaker, House of Representatives on Monday.
He said this is not the first time the country had issues in meeting Forex obligations to the foreign airlines but it was eventually resolved.
Emeifile however noted that, the country is going through difficult times and need not to be put under pressure or blackmailed to jeopardise the interest of the nation to satisfy the business interests of the foreign airlines.
He stated that the CBN has always tried to meet it’s obligations including provision of foreign exchange to the foreign airlines to help their businesses in the country.
The CBN Governor informed that, as part of the measures, the apex bank took a decision and $265 million was provided in tranches and paid to the foreign airlines.
He however noted with dismay that, despite the CBN’s efforts, the foreign airlines have been blackmailing in order to portray the country in bad light.
He berated other countries like the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and others of not reciprocating the magnanimity shown to their airlines by Nigeria by refusing to allow Nigeria’s airlines to operate to their countries.
Speaking, the minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika said, millions of Dollars were trapped in 2016 while the country was in a recession.
He however disclose that, when they reported to President Muhammadu Buhari, he directed the CBN and Finance ministry to act which was done at the time.
He however noted that, the recession worsened the country’s problems as most parts of the world suffer the same challenges.
Sirika added that, despite the difficulties, the country has always find ways to meet it’s obligations.
The minister states that, there should be a level of understanding between the foreign airlines and the federal government on the issues at hand instead of threats and blackmails that are becoming frequent.
While corroborating that, there were delays in the payments, he said the threats are a problem saying that, Nigeria is not afraid to be shut down, as it may even do better by looking inwards.
The minister noted that the Airlines can decide what they want to do, but Nigeria won’t be threatened because Nigeria is a very big aviation market which they can’t afford to lose.
In his remarks, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila lamented the treatment being meted out on Nigerians in foreign countries citing the recent visa ban by the UAE and the refusal of some countries to block Nigerian airline operators to fly into their territories.
He said, those countries should reciprocate the gestures accorded them by Nigeria and respect all bilateral agreements reached between their countries and Nigeria.
He further lamented that, tickets fares out of Nigeria are the most expensive compared to other countries.
According to him, the flight ticket out of Accra which is further away was cheaper compared to what it costs out of Nigeria.
On his part, the International Aviation Transport Association (IATA), Samson Fatokun maintained that, despite the CBN intervention in August, the foreign airlines are still being owed $700 million in trapped funds.
He however said, they will discuss with the airlines about the demands forwarded by the Speaker, the minister of aviation, the CBN and others on ways to make concessions and move forward to resolve the matter.
Speaking, the Vice Chairman, Airline Operator of Nigeria (AON) and chairman, Air Peace, Allen Onyema said, in order to domestic airlines to have a head way in foreign flight, the foreign airlines must be made to reduce their flight frequencies to their home countries and allow domestic airlines to fly the routes.