The International Air Transport Association [IATA] has said that funds belonging to foreign airlines, which had been trapped in the country due to the Federal Government’s policy on foreign exchange, stood at $575m [N113.28bn] as of March this year.
The association also bemoaned the high taxes imposed on air travellers in Africa, with Nigeria identified as one of the countries where the taxes were above global standards.
The association, which represents over 260 airlines attending to 83 per cent of the global air traffic, made the disclosure at the IATA African Aviation Day programme in Abuja on Monday.
Speaking at the event, the Area Manager, South West Africa, IATA, Samson Fatokun, listed Nigeria and Venezuela as two countries with the highest amounts of trapped airlines’ funds in the world.
He said, to this end, IATA was engaging the Federal Government to ensure that issues around the trapped funds were resolved.
The opening session of the two-day programme, with the theme, ‘Driving African economies through the power of aviation,’ had in attendance senior government officials and industry leaders, including the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika; the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Muhtar Usman; the Deputy Regional Director, International Civil Aviation Organisation, Gaoussou Konate; and the Secretary General, African Civil Aviation Commission, Iyabo Sosina.
Foreign airlines operating in the country have for months been having difficulties repatriating their revenues from ticket sales to their home countries due to forex restrictions by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Vice-President, IATA, Raphael Kuuchi, bemoaned the high taxes imposed on air travel in Africa, saying they were above global standards.
He noted that if not tackled, the phenomenon would continue to affect the growth of the industry negatively.
Kuuchi faulted the $60 charged per international passenger in addition to the $20 charged for security and taxes on aviation fuel in Nigeria.