During a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, operators of Foreign Airlines have accused the federal government of blocking the repatriation of more than $700 million from ticket sales.
In an interactive session on Monday, Samson Fatokun, who spoke on behalf of foreign airlines, said the government must obey international laws and treaties governing the aviation sector.
He noted that under the BASA principle, the Nigerian government has an obligation to help airlines repatriate their funds in US dollars.
“To date, after the CBN’s intervention on August 29, we have approximately $700 million in blocked funds. It is astronomically high and it is the highest in the world.
No country in the world has such an amount of blocked funds. Nigeria accounts for 32% of trapped funds globally. he said.
king of investors recalled that Emirates Airlines had planned to halt operations in Nigeria of more than $85 million of funds trapped until the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Likewise, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), had criticized the Nigerian government for its failure to allow international airlines to repatriate profits, warning that it could cause more damage to the country.
In a statement on its official Twitter account, IATA said it was “disappointed” that the Nigerian government had ignored its warnings to allow funds to be repatriated quickly.
Meanwhile, local operators present at the meeting, however, disagreed with their foreign counterparts.
Speaking on behalf of local operators, Airpeace CEO Allen Onyema said local operators are more patriotic and can perform better if given the opportunity.
He noted that some countries like the UK and the UAE are not respecting the bilateral agreement in the aviation sector.
Furthermore, the founder of United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo, noted that foreign airlines should use the I&E window of importers and exporters to get dollars instead of waiting for the CBN to give them dollars.