As Nigeria rations its scarce foreign exchange, foreign operators operating in the country are paying heavy price as they are blocked from repatriating a sum of $450 million (N188.6 billion) ticket revenue to their respective countries.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has expressed concern over the decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to block the airlines from their money.
IATA, the Geneva-based trade body representing over 200 international carriers, spoke at a press briefing marking the opening of its 78thn Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Doha, Qatar on Sunday.
IATA’s Regional Vice President, Africa & Middle East, Kamil Al-Alawadhi, said the Federal Government’s decision was unacceptable, adding that the development could have a negative effect on Nigeria’s aviation industry, according to reports.
The amount of foreign airlines’ blocked funds in Nigeria estimated at $208 million in the third quarter of last year had risen to $283 million in the first quarter of this year.
The reported foreign exchange shortage in Nigeria has forced the Central Bank of Nigeria to give priority to certain sectors of the economy in terms of approving requests for forex.
But Alawadhi told journalists that aviation was key to Nigeria’s economic growth and there was a need for the CBN to grant foreign access to repatriate their ticket sales revenue.
According to him, the aviation sector is responsible for the creation of thousands of jobs and it will be wrong for the Nigerian government to deny carriers the opportunity to repatriate their revenue.