The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released the sum of N108bn ($265 million ) to foreign airlines that threatened to suspend operations in Nigeria over trapped funds.
A breakdown of the figure indicates that the sum of $230 million was released as special FX intervention while another sum of $35 million was released through Retail SMIS auction.
This was confirmed by the Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, on Friday, August 26, 2022.
According to him, 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.
Mr. 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.
Foreign airline operators have in recent years voiced concern over the inability to repatriate “trapped” funds and have been calling on the Nigerian government through the Central Bank to release same to no avail.
The situation got worse last week when Emirates Airline announced it will suspend all flights to Nigeria from September 1.
However the Airline Operators of Nigeria had argued on Wednesday, that there were no trapped funds and the foreign airlines can repatriate their money without recourse to the CBN.
Speaking on the Morning Show, monitored by Headlinenews.news Correspondent, Prof Obiora Okonkwo, the association’s Spokesperson and Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, stressed that it is incorrect to claim that the CBN trapped the funds of foreign airlines and reiterated that it amounts to blackmail to frame it that way.
He pointed out that international airlines have the choice to repatriate money from Nigeria by buying foreign exchange at the parallel market, since they price their tickets using those same rates, but have chosen not to do so.
He also stated that the ultimatum given by foreign airlines to pull out of the Nigerian market is disrespectful to the Nigerian government and Nigerians in general, especially because the Nigerian route is lucrative to these airlines.
Okonkwo said Nigerian airlines are operating under the same conditions and would also be expecting a CBN intervention if the foreign airlines get a forex injection.