CBN tells foreign airlines not to operate in Nigeria, says IATA chief
Nigeria is withholding $450 million in payments due to foreign airlines, the biggest amount held by any single African country, and the amount is rising every week, IATA , disclosed on Sunday in a briefing monitored by Persecondnews.com.
The global airlines’ lobby group has held two rounds of discussions with the Nigerian government, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, to help to negotiate the release of funds owed to foreign airlines operating in the country, Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA’s vice president for Africa and Middle East, said.
“The excuse was that ‘we don’t have hard cash and this is why we can’t do it’ but you have to note that Nigeria is the biggest economy in Africa and Nigeria is the No 10 country in the world that exports oil,” he said.
“While I was in that meeting with the central bank, they were not responsive to handling the blocked funds and almost said, ‘well, tell the airlines not to operate’ and this is of course extremely damaging to the aviation industry inside Nigeria and internationally.”
Mr Al Awadhi said he will be returning to Nigeria “soon” for a third round of discussions to reduce the backlog.
Airlines are owed $1.6 billion from Nigeria and 19 other countries as governments seek to retain hard currency, depriving the aviation industry of cash as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.