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Foreign airlines yet to access $265m released fund

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Abiola Seun Foreign airlines operating into the nation’s airports are yet to access their $265million trapped funds released by the federal government.It could be recalled that the federal government released $265 million out of the $464million revenue earnings trapped in the country.A breakdown of the figure indicated that the sum of $230 million was released as special FX intervention while another sum of $35 million was released through Retail SMIS auction.Confirming the release, the Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, said the governor, Godwin Emefiele and his team were concerned about the development and what it portends for the sector and travelers as well as the country in the comity of nations.Nwanisobi reiterated that the CBN 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.Speaking, the President, National Association of Nigerian Travel Agency (NANTA), Susan Akporiaye, added that airlines are yet to get the 50 percent of their total funds released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).Akporiaye added that only 25 percent of the entire sum had been released to the carrier with huge backlog, making it extremely impossible for them to open the lower fare inventories.She, however, absolved the airlines of complicity, admitting that Nigeria violated all known Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) which allows foreign carriers to quickly repatriate their funds out of the country as quickly as possible, stressing that the country does not have the moral right to blame the carriers for some of their actions.“Many of the carriers are yet to get 50 percent of their total funds released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Only 25 percent of the entire sum had been released to the carrier with huge backlog making it extremely impossible for them to open the lower fare inventories.”Also speaking, the Country Manager, Afriqiyah and Namibia, Gbenga Onitilo, said the CBN was yet to open window for foreign airlines to repatraite their released fund.He said, “CBN is yet to open the official window for 50% of airlines funds to be repatriated till now as it’s a loss already for them having funds trapped since 2014.

“How many times has the exchange rate skyrocketed as well as Naira devalued? Are Airlines into CSR to keep bearing losses on our behalf while our government refuses to allow them repatriate their sales proceeds for a business that’s low margin already? “Our coalition call out should rather be against CBN, the government and Ministry of aviation as our businesses are what is at risk if IATA blacklists Nigeria,” he said.

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