The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that as of August 2023, Nigerian airlines are facing a total of $783 million in blocked funds, emphasizing the pressing issue at hand.
The association’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and Middle East, Kamil Al Awadhi, has engaged with the Federal Government to address this critical matter. Foreign carriers operating in Nigeria have been struggling to repatriate their commercial earnings due to a prolonged shortage of foreign exchange, a situation that has garnered attention.
The statement highlighted Mr. Al Awadhi’s meeting with Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo. During this meeting, he urged the new government to maintain consistent and closer consultation with the industry while formulating both short- and long-term solutions for forex accessibility for domestic and foreign carriers. Nigeria’s share of blocked funds for airlines amounts to $783 million, illustrating the scale of the challenge.
In addition, the IATA acknowledged the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria’s (FAAN) dedication to enhancing infrastructure and service quality at Lagos’s Murtala Muhammad International Airport within a year.
Notably, concerns had been previously raised by the IATA regarding safety, security, and passenger service levels at the Lagos airport. A recent high-level meeting between IATA and FAAN resulted in a commitment from FAAN to expedite improvements in these crucial areas under a corrective action plan.
Kamil Al Awadhi, the IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and Middle East, expressed satisfaction with FAAN’s commitment to upgrading Lagos airport, emphasizing its importance as a major domestic and international hub connecting Nigeria to Africa and beyond.
He stressed that such strategic focus not only benefits the aviation sector but also acts as a catalyst for Nigeria’s broader economic and social progress.
The IATA stands prepared to support FAAN with expertise to ensure international standards are met through the corrective action plan, underscoring the critical importance of safety, security, and efficient infrastructure for a well-functioning air transport system. Additionally, ensuring airlines’ access to the revenues they generate in Africa is vital for a robust aviation industry.