In a bid to address the lingering issue of $812.2 million in trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, the federal government is actively working on a solution.
The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, shared this development during the 7th African Aviation Summit in Abuja.
The trapped funds, which have raised concerns in the aviation industry, were highlighted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in June 2023.
Keyamo, reflecting President Bola Tinubu’s concerns, expressed his commitment to ensuring the repatriation of these funds.
He confirmed discussions on the matter during a visit to the UAE and revealed plans to engage the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for a definitive timeframe to address the issue.
Keyamo emphasized that these funds are not loans but rather assets held within the country, with liquidity being the primary challenge. He assured that liquidity issues are actively being addressed, with a strong focus on resolving this matter in the near future.
Additionally, the federal government has been working towards the resumption of flight operations by Emirates and Etihad Airlines in Nigeria. After a 10-month suspension of operations by Emirates due to challenges in repatriating $85 million in revenue, discussions have led to a positive outlook for their return.
While Keyamo acknowledged the progress, he highlighted that fine details are being worked out to facilitate a seamless resumption.
He explained that restoring airline operations involves complex logistics, including rescheduling flights, reestablishing routes, and addressing regulatory considerations. Keyamo also emphasized the importance of reciprocal rights for airlines operating between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in accordance with bilateral air services agreements (BASA).
As both countries work to navigate these intricacies, the hope is for a swift resolution of the trapped funds issue and the resumption of vital flight operations, benefiting both nations.
(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; email@example.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)