International Air Transport Association (IATA) is planning another round of discussions with Nigerian officials to secure the release of the trapped $450 million in revenue earned by international carriers that are operating in the country.
Nigeria and four other African countries have been accused of withholding a total of $1 billion in revenue earnings by international carriers that are operating in the countries despite several rounds of talks.
The other four countries which are also accused of restricting access to the investors to repatriate their profits are Algeria, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Zimbabwe.
The fresh meeting between IATA and Nigerian officials which date will be announced later will be the third of such.
The two parties had held two rounds of talks with Nigerian officials, including from the Central Bank of Nigeria, which Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Kamal Al Awadhi, said was “not responsive” to releasing cash.
The $450 million allegedly held by Nigeria is said to be the largest amount being withheld by any African nation, and in May, the amount grew by 12.5 per cent higher than the figure of the previous month.
Al Awadhi described talks with Nigerian officials to release the funds as a “hectic ride”, stating that “We keep chipping away and hoping that it clicks that this is going to go to damage the country down the road,” he told reporters in Doha on the eve of IATA’s annual meeting of airline chiefs there this week.”
Al Awadhi, a former chief executive of Kuwait Airways, said that Nigerian officials had blamed the lack of access of the foreign airlines to their revenue on the foreign currency crisis in the country.
Nigeria is faced with severe foreign exchange scarcity, pushing the exchange rate of the dollar to as high as N615.
Al Awadhi said Nigeria had previously blocked revenue from foreign airlines but later repatriated the funds.
“Hopefully, we can get some sort of solution where it starts going down (but) it won’t, I doubt, the money will be paid in a single shot,” Al Awadhi said.
Algeria, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, altogether are withholding $271 million from foreign airlines, in May marginally paid down what they owed. Eritrea was unchanged at $75 million, IATA said.