Over $700m Remains Trapped In Nigeria. - Foreign Airlines

By Clement Alphonsus

It was revealed by the foreign airlines that about 90 per cent of their $783m trapped funds have not been unpaid.

This was disclosed during a stakeholders’ forum convened by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, in Lagos recently.

In the data from the International Air Transport Association, as of August 2023, Nigeria accounted for a substantial $783m of airlines’ blocked funds..

The Chairman of International Airline Operators, Mr Chima Kingsley, further noted that while international banks had received some funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria that only accounted for a fraction, less than 10 per cent of the trapped funds.

He said, “The bulk of the blocked funds are with Nigerian commercial banks. The bulk of the money has not been paid."

Two weeks ago, the President Bola Tinubu had promised to clear the estimated $7bn outstanding foreign exchange obligations of the Federal Government on forex forwards contracts owed to commercial banks.

Also, it was reported that the CBN had commerced clearing the forex backlog to commercial banks to ease pressure on the foreign exchange.

Domestic carriers, represented by the Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo, explained their difficulties with trapped funds and limited access to forex impacting their operations.

Similarly, the Area Manager of West and Central Africa for IATA, Dr Samson Fatokun, stated the need to reduce operating costs in the Nigerian aviation sector, advocating for sector-specific support.

Keyamo expressed commitment to stakeholders that efforts were underway to address the forex challenge.

While he did not disclose the exact disbursement figures, the minister expressed the government’s commitment to resolving the issue in the coming weeks, offering a glimmer of hope for the airlines grappling with financial constraints.