The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released the sum of $265 million to airlines operating in the country, to settle outstanding ticket sales in a bid to arrest the crisis in the aviation industry due to the inability of some airlines to repatriate their revenue from the country.
In a statement on Friday, the regulatory bank said the sum of $230 million was released as special FX intervention while another sum of $35 million was released through the Retail SMIS auction.
The statement signed by the Bank Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi said the Governor, Godwin Emefiele and his team were concerned about the development and what it portends for the sector and travellers as well as the country in the comity of nations.
Nwanisobi reiterated that the Bank was not against any company repatriating its funds from the country, adding that what the Bank stood for was an orderly exit for those that might be interested in doing so.
With Friday’s release, it is expected that operators and travellers as well will heave huge sighs of relief, as some airlines had threatened to withdraw their services in the face of unremitted funds for the outstanding sale of tickets.
Earlier this week, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) expressed disappointment in Nigeria’s lack of action to address the repatriation of airline funds after Dubai-based Emirates announced the suspension of services to the country from September.
The association expressed concern over $464 million worth of foreign airlines’ funds currently trapped in the country, which increased from $450 million in July, the association said in a tweet.
IATA’s many warnings that failure to restore timely repatriation will hurt Nigeria with reduced air connectivity are proving true with the withdrawal of Emirates from the market, the association said in a tweet.
Prior to the IATA statement, Emirates Airlines had announced plans to suspend all flight operations to and from Nigeria in September due to its inability to repatriate its revenue from Nigeria due to dollar shortages.
The oldest Airline with links to Nigeria, British Airways (BA) equally indicated that it was on the verge of suspending fight operations in Nigeria following difficulty to repatriate trapped funds in Nigeria.