Foreign airlines operating in and out of Nigeria have been unable to repatriate accumulated revenue generated through their operations put at $143.8 million back to their home countries.
According to the airlines, under the aegis of International Air Transport Association (IATA), said the stuck funds have further threatened the finances of many of the carriers.
Though the situation is not peculiar to Nigeria, the funds were from tickets sold locally but could not be repatriated due to forex liquidity crisis.
IATA noted that approximately $963 million in airline funds were being blocked from repatriation in about 20 countries.
Four countries account for over 60 percent of this total while there has been positive progress in reducing blocked funds in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe of late.
The agency breakdown the fund trappped in the countries as: Bangladesh ($146.1 million), Lebanon ($175.5 million), Nigeria ($143.8 million), and Zimbabwe ($142.7 million).
IATA, the global clearing house for 290 international airlines, urged Nigeria and other governments to abide by international agreements and treaty obligations to enable airlines to repatriate close to nearly $1 billion in blocked funds from the sale of tickets, cargo space, and other activities.
IATA’s Director-General, Willie Walsh, said governments were preventing nearly $1 billion of airline revenues from being repatriated.
“This 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.
“Airlines will not be able to provide reliable connectivity if they cannot rely on local revenues to support operations. That is why it is critical for all governments to prioritise ensuring that funds can be repatriated efficiently. Now is not the time to score an ‘own goal’ by putting vital air connectivity at risk,” Walsh said.
IATA encourages governments to work with the industry to resolve the issues that are preventing airlines from repatriating funds.
This will enable aviation to provide the connectivity needed to sustain jobs and energise economies as they recover from COVID-19.
Similar situation in 2016 had over $600 million (N120 billion) stuck in Nigeria, forcing some airlines like United Airlines to quit operating from the country.