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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the release of about sum of $265 million to airlines operating in the country to settle outstanding ticket sales in an apparent move to check a brewing crisis in the country’s aviation sector.
According to details obtained by Africa Daily News, New York, the breakdown of the figure released on Friday indicates that the sum of $230 million was given as special Forex intervention while another sum of $35 million was released through the Retail SMIS auction.
Confirming the release, the Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, said the CBN 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.
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.
With Friday’s release, it is expected that operators and travellers as well will heave huge sighs of relief, as some airlines had threatened to withdraw their services in the face of unremitted funds for the outstanding sale of tickets.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), has asserted that except Nigerian authorities facilitate the release $464million in revenue due to foreign airlines and trapped in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), more airlines may suspend operations into Nigeria.
In a statement issued on Friday which was obtained by Africa Daily News, New York, the regional vice president, Africa, and Middle East, Kamil Alawadhi, disclosed that IATA was seriously disappointed that the amount of funds belonging to airlines, which were blocked from repatriation by the Nigerian government has now grown to $464 million in July.
According to him, the government should release the trapped funds before more damage is done, adding that IATA has been vindicated with the planned suspension of flights to Nigeria by Emirates Airlines.