Foreign airlines have stated that funds belonging to them, to the tune of nearly $783 million are still trapped in Nigeria.
This is in spite of recent efforts by the federal government to clear the backlog.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently began the process of clearing the forex backlog to commercial banks to ease pressure on the foreign exchange.
The CBN had initiated steps to clear the forex backlog to ease pressure on foreign exchange, but challenges have persisted in disbursing the funds effectively.
The foreign airlines, during a stakeholders’ forum convened by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, in Lagos, said the recent efforts had not quite paid off as a significant portion of those funds remained inaccessible to them.
The Chairman of International Airline Operators, Chima Kingsley, explained that while international banks had received some funds from the CBN, it only accounted for a fraction, less than 10 per cent of the trapped funds.
“The bulk of the blocked funds are with Nigerian commercial banks. The bulk of the money has not been paid,” he said.
Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) represented by the Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo, also lamented that limited access to forex was negatively impacting their operations.
He cited examples, including aircraft maintenance fees accumulating due to the inability to source forex for payments.
Also, Area Manager of West and Central Africa for IATA, Dr Samson Fatokun, underscored the need to reduce operating costs in the Nigerian aviation sector, advocating for sector-specific support.
Responding, the minister assured stakeholders that efforts were underway to address the forex challenge.
He reiterated the government’s commitment to resolving the issue in the coming weeks.