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Release $265m on time, foreign airlines tell FG

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The Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria not to waste time in releasing the promised $265m out of its members’ trapped funds in the country.

The president of the association, Kingsley Nwokeoma, in a telephone interview with our correspondents on Saturday said it was commendable that the government promised to release part of the funds, but that there should be no delay if the brewing crisis in the sector were to be averted.

Emirates Airlines had threatened to suspend flights to Nigeria from September 1 over its trapped $85m, while some other foreign airlines gave the government till December, coupled with fears that they may also suspend flights.

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Also, British Airways on Friday stopped travel agents in Nigeria from selling its tickets amid the difficulty of foreign airlines to repatriate the $464m ticket sales proceeds to their respective home countries. The International Air Transport Association stated on August 18, 2022 that foreign airlines’ funds being withheld in Nigeria increased from $450m in May to $464m in July.

The trapped $464m has made foreign carriers to increase airfares, reduce flights and suspend operations due to their inability to repatriate funds to their home countries.

To avert the impending crisis, the CBN on Friday announced the release of $265m. A breakdown of the figure indicated that $230m was released as a special FX intervention while another $35m was released through the Retail SMIS auction.

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The Director, Corporate Communications Department, CBN, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, said in a statement on Friday that the apex bank, headed by Mr Godwin Emefiele, was not against any company repatriating its funds from Nigeria, but that the bank stood for orderliness.

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