Nigeria and 10 other African countries have stopped foreign airlines from repatriating ticket sales proceeds estimated at $700m to their various head offices in overseas, the International Air Transport Association has said.
The Regional Vice President, Africa and Middle-East, IATA, Kamil Al-Awadhi, in an opinion-editorial article obtained by the Reporter on Thursday, disclosed that Nigeria alone had held back foreign carriers from repatriating $208m out of the $700m. The Geneva, Switzerland-based IATA represents over 290 international airlines, had in August put the blocked funds for Nigeria at $143.8m.
On Thursday, Kamil Al-Awadhi said the latest development was threatening to hamper aviation in Nigeria, adding that the figure was rising every week.
In the op-ed titled, ‘Blocked funds threaten to hamper Aviation in Nigeria’, the IATA VP said, “At the onset of COVID-19, Nigeria’s air connectivity was severely damaged as aviation took its biggest hit in history. In April 2020, Nigeria lost over 75 per cent of its international route connectivity compared to 2019, and passenger demand still hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
“But COVID-19 is not the only threat to connectivity, to aviation’s recovery in Nigeria, or to the country’s economic revival. Airlines’ inability to access adequate foreign exchange in Nigeria is a rapidly increasing obstacle.”
Kamil Al-Awadhi added, “Globally, $1bn in airline funds is blocked by 20 countries worldwide. Of this, roughly $700m is tied up in 11 African countries, including $208m being held back in Nigeria. It is the most amount blocked by any single African country, and the amount is rising every week.”