How Nigeria is blocking repatriation of $450m foreign airline revenue, by IATA


Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika

How Nigeria is blocking repatriation of $450m foreign airline revenue, by IATA

Nigeria is withholding $450 million in revenue earnings of international carriers operating in the country, says the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the world’s largest airlines association.

The association’s Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Kamal Al Awadhi,  also on Sunday accused the Africa’s largest economy [Nigeria] of restricting access to foreign currency for imports and for investors seeking to repatriate their profits as the nation tackles a severe dollar shortage.

Kamal Al Awadhi, who spoke to Reuters, described talks with Nigerian officials to release the funds as a “hectic ride”.

“We keep chipping away and hoping that it clicks that this is going to damage the country down the road,” he told reporters in Doha on the eve of IATA’s annual meeting of airline chiefs there this week.

Al Awadhi, a former chief executive of Kuwait Airways, said that Nigerian officials had blamed the foreign currency shortage for not repatriating the airline revenue.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nigeria has previously blocked revenue from foreign airlines before later repatriating the funds.

IATA has so far had held two rounds of talks with Nigerian officials, including from the Central Bank, who Al Awadhi said were “not responsive” to releasing cash.

Another round of talks between IATA and Nigerian officials is expected to start soon, the airline lobby group said, without specifying when.

“Hopefully, we can get some sort of solution where it starts going down (but) it won’t, I doubt, be paid in a single shot,” Al Awadhi said.

IATA said that $1 billion of revenue belonging to foreign airlines was being withheld across Africa, although Nigeria is the only country where the value of blocked funds has risen.

The $450 million, the largest amount withheld by any African nation, in May was 12.5% higher than the previous month.

Algeria, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, who combined are withholding $271 million from foreign airlines, in May marginally paid down what they owed. Eritrea was unchanged at $75 million, IATA said.



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