June 2, 2024

Trapped airlines funds: FG pays 98%, outstanding now $19M, says IATA

Foreign airlines’ funds blocked in Nigeria hit $743.7m - IATA

…ongoing verification at CBN delays payment’

By Dickson Omobola

International Air Transport Association, IATA, said the Federal Government has paid 98 per cent of trapped airlines’ funds, adding that only $19M out of $850 million is outstanding.

It explained that what was left was being delayed by ongoing verification of claims made by commercial banks at the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

Reiterating the call for governments to remove all impediments to airlines repatriating their revenues from ticket sales, IATA’s Director General, Willie Walsh, said: “We commend the new Nigerian government and the CBN for their efforts to resolve this issue. Individual Nigerians and the economy will all benefit from reliable air connectivity for which access to revenues is critical.

“We are on the right path and urge the government to clear the residual $19 million and continue prioritising aviation.”

While reporting a 28 per cent decrease in the amount of airline funds blocked from repatriation by governments across the world, the body stated that the total blocked funds at the end of April stood at approximately $1.8 billion, a reduction of $708 million (28 per cent) since December 2023.

Walsh added. “The reduction in blocked funds is a positive development. The remaining $1.8 billion, however, is significant and must be urgently addressed.

“The efficient repatriation of airline revenues is guaranteed in bilateral agreements. Even more importantly, it is a pre-requisite for airlines—who operate on thin margins—to be able to provide economically critical connectivity. No business can operate long-term without access to rightfully earned revenues.”