The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has disclosed that Nigerian government is withholding an estimated $450 million in revenues belonging to foreign airlines
Data from the association show that as of May 2022, Nigeria’s restricted funds rose 12.5% month on month.
The amount represents the total amount of foreign airline revenues that cannot be repatriated by the airlines.
In a report first published by Reuters, IATA claims airlines are owed about $1 billion globally in revenues held by countries suggesting that Nigeria alone accounts for 45% of the total share.
Other African countries, Algeria, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe also account for a combined $271 million also owed to foreign airlines.
According to IATA, Nigeria restricted the funds to allow for foreign currency to be used for imports of essential goods and services as well as for investors looking to repatriate dividends.
The IATA official, Kamal Al Awadhi described the negotiations with central bank officials as a “hectic ride” suggesting that it can be frustrating to get the country officials to release funds. He also expressed fears that the situation could “damage” Nigeria’s aviation sector down the road as airlines seek options to protect their revenues.
“The International Air Transport Association’s Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Kamal Al Awadhi, 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 to damage the country down the road.” Kamal Al Awadhi
Awadhi, according to Reuters, also explained that CBN officials were “not responsive” to releasing any funds or even paying down some of them.