$450 million foreign airlines’ trapped funds threaten Nigeria’s aviation industry

$450 million foreign airlines

By Chinelo Obogo, Lagos

The National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA) has appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regarding the $450 million in trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines operating in the country.

The association’s president, Mrs Susan Akporiaye, said in a statement that as of May, the trapped funds are estimated at over $450 million and that this issue reduces investor confidence in Nigeria.

She said the current situation presents a real threat to the industry and the continuity of their business as travel professionals, bearing in mind the potential job losses and the attendant national economic losses as the world is gradually coming out of the pandemic era.

She said they are worried that, foreign airlines may resort to taking out lower inventory in the system resulting in the high cost of tickets from the Nigerian market.

Explaining the implication, she stated that, for instance, a six-hour trip to London may attract a fare rate of about $2000 or more and also encourage tickets sold outside the country to flood Nigeria, thus affecting the survival of Nigerian travel agents and consequent loss of taxes and levies from such transactions.

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She said if the matter is not handled quickly, a bleak future worse than the pandemic awaits Nigerian travel operators if nothing concrete and effectual is done by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“As Nigerians, we are patriotic and have presented our country well in the global travel industry and rightly felt disturbed that Nigeria is on the brink of a wrong narrative at the just concluded 78th Annual General Meeting of International Air Transport Association ( IATA) in Doha, Qatar on the account of airlines trapped funds.

“We are by this outing once again, appealing to the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Ministry of Aviation and the office of the Vice President to speedily intervene to bring down the number of trapped funds to help resolve the operations of these airlines,” she said.

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