British Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, and Others Might Leave Nigeria Soon

The Central Bank of Nigeria has been cautioned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regarding the potential departure of certain foreign airlines from the Nigerian markets. This warning stems from the existing challenge of $792 million in ticket revenue currently inaccessible within the country.

Kamil Alawadhi, the IATA regional vice president for Africa & Middle East, conveyed this message during a media presentation held with African journalists at the IATA Global Media Day in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Global Trade Association for Airlines had earlier called out Nigeria and other African nations for their reluctance to permit international airlines to repatriate their profits, amounting to an estimated $1.68 billion.

Nigeria is the biggest debtor

Alawadhi highlighted that despite the inadequate infrastructure, Lagos and Abuja airports have been identified as the most expensive gateways in the region.

According to Punch, he mentioned that presently, the Nigerian government holds the largest sum of airline-impounded funds. Addressing the issue of blocked funds, the IATA vice president highlighted Nigeria as the nation with the highest amount of blocked funds from airlines, totaling $792 million. Following Nigeria, other countries with substantial amounts include Egypt with $348 million, Algeria with $199 million, the AFI zone with $183 million, and Ethiopia with $128 million.

Alawadhi said Ethiopia has devised a plan to settle its debt, whereas Nigeria has not taken any step. However, in September, President Bola Tinubu directed the CBN to facilitate quarterly meetings with foreign airlines, aiming to tackle the backlog of funds held by these airlines.

Amid foreign airlines seeking the repatriation of their trapped funds, a minimum of four local airlines possess funds surpassing $54 million currently held within the CBN. Alawadhi emphasized that these factors collectively make it challenging for Nigerian airlines to achieve profitability. He further noted that any airline operating outside of Nigeria incurs lower operating costs and offers more competitive prices compared to domestic Nigerian airlines.

“Nigeria has two most expensive airports; their fuel is higher than elsewhere in the world, and insurance is six times more expensive than anywhere else in the world. The interest on loans is 25%. It is ridiculous. It is the highest interest I have ever seen. “When you set up these airlines, you are already disadvantaged. Any airline in Nigeria operating outside of Nigeria has a cheaper operating cost and better prices than Nigerian airlines. You can see why it is difficult for African airlines to make a profit.”

He further stated that IATA is actively investigating the reasons behind the elevated operating costs and is taking a step-by-step approach to address each issue. The organization is focused on finding ways to reduce these costs with the ultimate goal of enhancing the profitability of airlines.

Source: Legit ng

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