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IATA applauds Nigeria for releasing $831m airlines’ trapped funds, urges prioritisation of aviation sector

*Willie Walsh, Director-General of the International Air Transport Association commends the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria for clearing $831 million of the foreign airlines’ trapped funds in the West African country

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The International Air Transport Association has applauded the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for clearing $831 million of the foreign airlines’ funds earlier trapped in the West African country.

Mr. Willie Walsh, Director-General of IATA, who said this in a statement issued Sunday, June 2, 2024, noted the the Nigerian Government had paid 98 percent amounted to $831 million, while the remaining two percent amounted to $19 million.

As of June 2023, Walsh stated that Nigeria’s blocked funds amounted to $850 million, which significantly affected airline operations and finances in the country.

He also stated: “At its peak in June 2023, Nigeria’s blocked funds amounted to $850 million, significantly affecting airline operations and finances in the country.”

The Director-General of IATA further explained the affected foreign airlines had difficulties repatriating revenues in US Dollars, and the huge amount resulted in a reduction in their operations.

He 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.”

Walsh as well urged the government to clear the residual $19 million, and continue prioritising aviation in the economy.

The IATA Chief noted there was a 28 percent decrease in airlines’ funds blocked from repatriation by governments.

The total blocked funds at the end of April this year stood at approximately $1.8 billion, a reduction of $708 million (28 percent) since December 2023, stated he.

The statement noted: “The reduction in blocked funds is a positive development. The remaining $1.8 billion, however, is significant and must be urgently addressed.”

Walsh explained that the main driver of the reduction was a significant clearance of funds blocked in Nigeria.

He revealed that Egypt also approved clearance of its significant accumulation of blocked funds.

However, the Director-General of the global aviation body affirmed that airlines were adversely affected by the devaluation of the Egyptian Pound and the Nigerian Naira in both cases.

Walsh, therefore, urged governments and other regulatory authorities in countries worldwide to remove all barriers to airlines repatriating their revenues from ticket sales, and other activities in accordance with international agreements and treaty obligations.

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