The Federal Government is to meet foreign airlines operating in Nigeria over issues bordering on the trapped funds belonging to the international carriers, which has risen to over $567m, it was learnt on Sunday.
Dubai-based Emirates Airlines had on Thursday announced the suspension of its flight operations in Nigeria indefinitely due to the blocked funds. Operators also stated that other international airlines could halt services too.
Data obtained on Sunday from the International Air Transport Association, the umbrella body for airlines globally, showed that as of September 2022, the highest amount of blocked funds ($567m) belonging to foreign carriers was in Nigeria.
IATA said, “The industry’s blocked funds have increased by 27 per cent in the last six months, reaching the amount of $1.851bn.
“The total amount blocked is higher, mainly driven by two factors: increase of sales across most markets and deterioration in Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Russia and Ukraine and two new countries.”
It added, “The top country with blocked funds is Nigeria where airlines are currently holding a balance of $567m.”
But the President, Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria, Kingsley Nwokoma, stated on Sunday that the debts had risen above what was recorded in September.
“As I’m talking to you now, tickets are being sold every minute and do you know what that means? It means that there will be more blocked and trapped funds. The government has not been able to agree on the scheme of payment.
“Every day the funds are increasing and if we have not sat down to agree on how to clear the debt, whether monthly or quarterly, then we are back to square one.
“If you owe me a debt and the debt is not increasing, and you are paying me off, that’s different from when the debt is rising at every minute. Moreover, there is no earlier pact on how the payment will be made.”