Foreign airlines have $175million ticket sales proceeds trapped in Nigeia, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said yesterday.
But the organisation applauded the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for reducing the debt, which could not be paid due to the dearth of foreign exchange, from $600 million in June 2017 to $175m this year.
The global airlines body said non-remittance of such funds was affecting the operations of the affected carriers, as the blocked funds constitute their operating costs.
Speaking yesterday in Lagos, IATA Area Manager, South West Africa, Dr Samson Fatokun, urged the CBN to accelerate the process that would enable carriers access the blocked funds to ease their business.
Fatokun said Nigeria could accelerate the release of the funds as done by some African countries , such as Egypt where the entire blocked fund was released.
He said the negative impact of withholding airlines’ funds could have ripple effects on the aviation value chain.
Fatokun regretted that Iberia and United Airlines pulled out of Nigeria last year because of blocked funds.
He said IATA was worried over rising airport and air navigational charges, taxes and levies which are affecting the capacity of airlines in Nigeria.
The official said IATA would continue to engage aviation authorities, governments and regulators on how to enable air travel serve as a catalyst for economic growth.
IATA Regional Vice President, Africa and Middle East, Muhammad Ali Albakri, said more jobs could be created and economic growth achieved in Nigeria and West Africa if governments utilised aviation as a pillar of recovery and national development
Albakri was in Nigeria to meet with stakeholders on modalities to promote the aviation sector.
He said though the government was doing enough to accelerate aviation growth, it needed to strengthen the framework for regulation, safety and airports infrastructure upgrade