Forex scarcity hits airlines as operators seek Nigerian Government’s intervention

*Airlines have defaulted in payment of subscriptions, leases due to Forex difficulty

*Banks not willing to assist airline operators –Aero Contractors CEO

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As the country prepares to resume international commercial flights, the inability of Nigerian airlines to secure foreign exchange (Forex) is affecting their operations negatively.

Captain Ado Sanusi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aero Contractors, who disclosed this said owing to this development, domestic carriers were finding it difficult to acquire spares, carry out maintenance of their aircraft, pay for technical training of personnel and lease aircraft.

In a recent chat with ThisDay, Captain Sanusi called for intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Aero Chief stated the situation was one of the reasons why the operators had been demanding palliatives from the government.
If government fails to rescue the airlines many of them would eventually go under, he declared.

Sanusi stressed that the airlines could not continue to source Forex from the autonomous markets.

Banks are not even willing to assist in this regard, he stated.

According to him, airlines have defaulted in payment of subscriptions and leases due to the difficulty in securing Forex.

He said: “The local airlines will survive only if the Federal Government provides foreign exchange for them.

“We cannot continue to source foreign exchange from autonomous markets at N470 to a Dollar.

“Even if you go there, you might find it difficult to find the Dollar.”

The aviation professional explained this greatly had affected his airline as he was compelled to return helicopters and aircraft engines to their owners because the company could not source Forex to pay for the leases.

He lamented: “I have returned two engines; I have returned helicopter.

“Subscription for Boeing is due, and I am still trying to plead with them to give me another month because I am still pleading with the bank to give us foreign exchange.

“They are saying the waiting period is three months; nobody will wait for you three months to pay your lease rental or to pay your subscription.”

Sanusi noted that efforts being made by the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) to draw the attention of the Federal Government appeared not to be yielding results.

“Yes, I am sure the AON has written and a lot of people have written, but we would also make a position known.

“I believe the Federal Government understands that they must intervene immediately, or airlines will going under one by one.”

Captain Edward Boyo, Managing Director and CEO of Overland Airways, lamented that airlines revenue was little in the airfares charged passengers because of the high amount of tax added to the fare.

Boyo said: “We, the airlines are just tax collectors with no compensation at the end of the day.

“Imagine from the $99 fare you have to pay: Navigational Charges, Landing fee, Parking fee, Handling fee, Fuel charge, Power by the Hour, Fuel and Oils, Lease cost, Admin, Finance and other costs.”

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