By Aondohemba Agabi
As Nigeria’s forex crises deepens, repatriated funds of foreign airlines has peaked $743,721,097 from $662m in January 2023, the the International Air Transport Association has said.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, signed by the Area Manager West and Central Africa, Dr Samson Fatokun.
In the letter seen by our correspondent IATA called on the minister to intervene so the foreign airlines can repatriate their funds.
“For over a year, Nigeria has been the country with the highest amount of airline-blocked funds in the world” the letter indicated.
IATA reckoned that the “trapped funds sends a strong message against FD! The increasing backiog of international airlines blocked funds in Nigeria sends a strong message against foreign direct investment (FD!) in Nigeria. Potential investors are reading from the plight of the airlines that they would not be able to expatriate their funds from Nigeria even al this moment when Nigeria is expecting investments in the concession of some of its prominent airports.”
Dr. Samson Fatokun said that it’s important Nigeria respect contractual obligations Foreign airlines fly into Nigeria within the legal framework of the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) signed between their countries and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He noted that it is agreed in those BASAs that Nigeria will facilitate the repatriation of.the funds.
He said this has also led to high-ticket prices to mitigate the increasing backlog of these funds in Nigeria and its impact of their cash flow, some airlines have decided to reduce the number of their frequencies, or the number of seats made available for sale in the Nigerian market.
Commenting, the Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika said the “government is concerned especially the ministry of aviation. I am sure you are all aware that this is not a problem that is currently within the leverage of the ministry of aviation if it were to be here it would be resolved today.”
“Unfortunately, it sits somewhere else more with the Central Bank of Nigeria who in turns keeps saying it is between them and the commercial banks” he further explained.
“We will do the very best we can to resolve this matter soon” he promised.
“We will begin from today, we have been doing the best we can because we understand the importance of the services being provided and also the legitimacy of the request because it is something that is backed by the Bilateral and multi-lateral Agreements and something that is the law itself so there is no reason why it should continue to remain” he assured.
He also urged the airlines to bear with certain situations, adding that the way they deal with the matter is not the best way to deal with issues of sovereign and in this case some of the airlines that decide not to come to Nigeria, it is a commercial decision you take which is fine but to do other things to show some resentment to the country is not acceptable.
“Some go to the extent of saying that they are not allowing Nigerians to go or no visa issuance which I think is anniversary and uncalled for; we do know that we need your services but we are very convinced that you need our market more that we need your services. I think Nigeria should be treated with some level of dignity and honour” he quarried.
“From your document here Qatar Airways has $208m blocked, Ethiopian Airline with $117m blocked. These are the major tickets and IATA $216m which is the highest while Emirates is $35m” he said.
“I know certain payments have been made. At some point when we decided to closed down Abuja airport for rehabilitation and to move to Kaduna. All of you foreign airlines refused to go to Kaduna which shows that you are only interested in what you can gain from a country which is the money but you are not willing to give anything.
Some of you approached me and said you do not have were your crew will stay so you can fly to Kaduna” he said.