IATA Lauds Nigeria For Clearing Foreign Airlines’ Over $700 Million Blocked Fund

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Nigeria has cleared 98 per cent of foreign airlines’ blocked funds, disclosing that the remaining two per cent of funds amounting to $19 million yet to be cleared is due to the Central Bank’s ongoing verification of outstanding forward claims filed by the commercial banks. It noted that as of April 2024, 98% of these funds have been cleared.

Director-General of IATA, Willie Walsh said, “We commend the new Nigerian government and the Central Bank of Nigeria for their efforts to resolve this issue. Individual Nigerians and the economy will all benefit from reliable air connectivity for which access to revenues is critical. We are on the right path and urge the government to clear the residual $19 million and continue prioritizing aviation,” said Walsh.

Eight countries account for 87% of the total blocked funds, amounting to $1.6 billion.

The situation he said had become severe in Pakistan and Bangladesh with airlines unable to repatriate $731 million ($411 million in Pakistan and $320 million in Bangladesh) of revenues earned in these markets.

“Pakistan and Bangladesh must release the $731 million in blocked funds immediately to ensure airlines can continue providing essential air connectivity. In Bangladesh, the solution is in the hands of the Central Bank, which must prioritize aviation’s access to foreign exchange in line with international treaty obligations. The solution in Pakistan is finding efficient alternatives to the system of audit and tax exemption certificates, which cause long processing delays,” said Walsh.

At its peak in June 2023, Nigeria’s blocked funds amounted to $850 million, significantly affecting airline operations and finances in the country.

Carriers faced difficulties in repatriating revenues in US dollars, and the high volume of blocked funds led some airlines to reduce their operations and one carrier to temporarily cease operations to Nigeria, which severely impacted the country’s aviation industry.

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