Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirmed that Nigeria has cleared the $600 million blocked funds belonging to foreign airlines.
The DG/CEO made the announcement Monday, at the 74th Annual general meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Sydney Australia, which held between 3-5 June 2018.
IATA representing global airlines said Nigeria succeeded in clearing the blocked funds even when foreign airlines’ funds are still trapped in many countries.
According to Juniac, as quoted in a statement, “We have had some recent success. The $600 million backlog in Nigeria has been cleared.”
The funds could not be repatriated between to 2016 and most part of 2017 following scarcity of foreign exchange occasioned by drop in crude oil earnings,
Many foreign airlines including Emirates, British Airways, Lufthansa, Turkish Airways, among others operating to Nigeria had accumulated ticket sale earnings in naira to be converted to dollars.
However, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was unable to meet all requests for funds repatriation during the period of the cash crunch. This even prompted some airlines to reduce their frequencies to reduce the blocked funds to a manageable size.
The IATA report indicates that airline funds blocked from repatriation totalled $4.9 billion at the end of 2017, a seven percent reduction compared to year-end 2016.
The top five countries with blocked funds according to IATA are Venezuela – $3.78 billion; Angola-approximately $386 million; Sudan-$170 million; Bangladesh-$95 million and Zimbabwe-$76 million.
“And we have made $120 million of progress from a peak of over $500 million in Angola. I encourage the government of Angola to work with airlines to help to reduce this backlog further”, Juniac said.