By Elizabeth Chukwuma
More facts have emerged why Godwin Emefiele, governor of Central of Nigeria, CBN, took a hasty decision to unblock $265 million part payment of unremitted funds trapped in the Nigerian Banks to the Foreign airlines operating n Nigeria.
This is to save the nation’s aviation sector from imminent imminent crisis and to settle the foreign airlines outstanding ticket sales. The breakdown of the funds that was said to have been released by the apex bank on Friday, August 26, 2022, to the foreign airlines shows that $230 million was given to the operators as Special intervention Funds while $35 million was released to them through the retail SMIS auction.
The foreign airline operators who are faced with high operating costs were said to have threatened, ‘’to withdraw their services in the face of unremitted funds for the outstanding sale of tickets’’, warning that,’ if the Nigeria government, through the CBN, fail to take immediate step to save the sector from its financial dehydration, there would be no going back in their decision to withdraw their services in Nigeria by December, 2022. But Emirates, which believes its case has become critical was said to have to have set September 1st, 2022, to withdraw its services from Nigeria.
The Nigerian government, through the CBN, may have acted fast because Emirates and the other foreign airlines operating in the country have threatened to withdraw their services from Nigeria due to the ongoing challenge in repatriating funds from Nigeria to their home country.
The 27, foreign a irline operators had said that they had made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the CBN, and other relevant Authorities , including the Federal Airport Authorities of Nigeria, FAAN, for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution of their over $450 million allegedly strapped in Nigerian Banks but no luck. Emirates, particular, had said, that it made several attempts to repatriate its accrued $95 million stuck in the Nigerian banks but had met a stone wall.
Perhaps, this may have informed why the Company took the hard decision to withdraw its services from Nigeria with effect from September 1st, 2022, ‘’to limit further loses and impact on its operating costs’’, that was said to have continued to accumulate in the market pace.
But the CBN, would not agree with Emirates or any of the foreign airlines that the apex Bank was against any of the foreign airlines operating in Nigeria from repatriating its funds from the country to their home countries. The Bank, had told the industry operators, who care to listen that what it had always stood for was ‘’orderly exit for those that might be interested in repatriating their funds to their home countries.
Many believe that the foreign airline operators, which had been at dagger drawn with the relevant Authorities, particular, the CBN, over the years over the unremitted funds for the outstanding sale of tickets to their home countries can now heave a sigh of relief and shelve their planned withdrawal of their services with the release of the $265 million to them.
Mrs. Susan Akproaye, president of the National Association of Travel Agents , who is excited over what Emefiele , led CBN, had done to unblock $265 million of part of the trapped funds of the foreign airlines operators has expressed optimism that the companies will have no option but ‘’to review their decision to withdraw their services in Nigeria’’.
She may have been forced to speak out because of the way and manner the foreign airlines were going about the alleged trapped unremitted funds when she said the trapped funds did not mean that the CBN, was holding the revenues of the foreign airlines.
According to her, what happened was that the foreign airlines which have their money, in naira in their respective Bank accounts in Nigeria were awaiting for it to be converted the North American country of the United States dollar to be transferred to their home countries and their naira account debited.’’It is a bank to bank transactions’’, the NATA, president had said, noting that once, the banks can do the transfer, their account in naira will be debited
Until, the CBN, unblocked the $265 million part of the unremitted funds to the foreign airline foreign operators on Friday, August 26, 2022, Emirates airlines, was said to have told their Customers not to worry about the inconvenience its decision to its services from Nigeria may be caused as the company is working out an alternate travel arrangements wherever possible for them ‘’to cushion the harsh effects’. Aviation analysts are optimistic that with the release of the $265 million blocked funds to the foreign airlines operating in Nigeria, Emirates, particular, may be forced to re-evaluate its decision to withdraw its services with effect from September 1st, 2022,
The United Arab Emirate, UAE, airline, was said to have country’s repeatedly old Travellers, patronizing the airline in Nigeria that ‘’it will remain committed to serve Nigeria in providing ‘’ the much needed connectivity flights for travelers , providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai and to the country’s broader network of over 130 destinations’’.