The International Air Transport Association, IATA, says over $175 million generated from ticket sales by foreign airlines is still trapped in Nigeria due to inadequate foreign exchange. The figure is however down from the $600 million the association said was trapped before the Central Bank of Nigeria, started offloading the funds to the airlines at the beginning of the year when revenues from oil sales improved due to increase in crude oil prices.
But IATA on Wednesday said non-remittance of such funds was having negative impact on the operations of the carriers, as they constitute operating costs.
It gave examples of Iberia and United Airlines, which stopped operations to Nigeria over the issue.
Samson Fatokun, IATA Area Manager, South West Africa, said the development also forced other international airlines to cut down operations to and from Nigerian airports.
Mr. Fatokun urged the CBN to hasten the process that would enable the affected airlines access the funds to ease their business, stressing that their non-remittance could lead to serious problem in the Nigerian aviation sector.
He urged the Nigerian government to take a cue from African countries like Egypt where the entire blocked funds had been released.
The IATA official also decried rising airport and air navigational charges, taxes and levies he said were affecting operational capacities of Nigerian airlines.