Nigerian foreign airlines dispute CBN claims of settled FX backlog

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Nigerian foreign airlines dispute CBN claims of settled FX backlog

By Jimisayo Opanuga

21 March 2024   |  
5:49 pm

The Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN) has contradicted the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) recent announcement that it has cleared all outstanding foreign exchange obligations to airlines. AFARN President Kingsley Nwokeoma told BusinessDay that foreign airlines are still owed payments. Nwokeoma requested that CBN should “show us figures” on how much…

The Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria (AFARN) has contradicted the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) recent announcement that it has cleared all outstanding foreign exchange obligations to airlines.

AFARN President Kingsley Nwokeoma told BusinessDay that foreign airlines are still owed payments.

Nwokeoma requested that CBN should “show us figures” on how much has been cleared.

“If they say they have cleared the trapped funds, they should show us figures. They should tell us how much have been cleared. The last I checked, the status quo still remains the same,” Nwokeoma said.

CBN’s acting director of communications, Hakama Sidi Ali, said the bank recently paid $1.5 billion to settle foreign exchange obligations to bank customers, effectively settling the residual balance of the FX backlog.

The chairman of the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Nigerian chapter, Bankole Bernard, sided with the CBN.

Bernard said the airlines’ trapped funds have been cleared, but airlines are unhappy with the exchange rate offered for repatriation.

He insisted that foreign airlines have been offered the option to get their funds from the banks using the rate of the I&E window but have refused because the current I&E window rate is not the same as they used to sell tickets.

Bernard explained that this is why airlines stopped selling low-cost tickets and instead offered high fares to recover their losses due to the exchange rate.

Regarding Emirates Airlines’ suspended flights, Bernard attributed it to a diplomatic row, not trapped funds, and claimed Nigerians committing crimes in Dubai led to the suspension.

“The crimes Nigerians are committing in Dubai has made them refuse Nigerians from coming to Dubai.

“These crimes affect tourism. They do not want their country to be perceived as unsafe. Emirates still has their office in Nigeria and they have staff they are paying salaries,” he said.

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