The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has warned that Bilateral Air Services Agreements, BASA, never made compulsory provision of foreign exchange for repatriation of foreign airlines’ income.
This is coming against the backdrop of reports that the Federal Government is not honouring its BASA with foreign airlines in the repatriation of their incomes.
The apex bank also called on the home governments of foreign airlines operating in Nigeria to reciprocate BASA by granting equal landing opportunities to Nigerian airlines.
Foreign airlines collect Naira for their tickets to customers and exchange the same for foreign currencies for their operations.
But recently, they said they had been unable to get the exchange executed through official foreign exchange market due to scarcity of foreign exchange.
However, while reacting to the airlines FX pressure, CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, urged home governments of foreign airlines flying into Nigeria to reciprocate by granting equal landing opportunities to Nigerian airlines to such countries, as means of reducing the demand for foreign exchange.
“Nigerian airlines would not need FX for tickets in such cases, as their only demand for FX would be for the importation of planes and parts or services.
“The BASA never made it compulsory for CBN to provide FX for repatriation of foreign airlines income and they should freely obtain such FX from the Export and Import’ Window.
“Notwithstanding, CBN will continue to treat airlines with priority and clear the backlog but that they should ask their banks to obtain FX for them from the I & E Window,” he said.
Meanwhile, foreign airlines have again raised an alarm that they were yet to receive over 50 per cent or $265 million of the trapped funds to settle outstanding ticket sales.
Reacting to the development, President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, said: “The delay in the repatriation of funds of foreign airlines in the country, assumed an embarrassing scenario when IATA bared its fangs and labelled our country a debt bearing nation, which brought us knocks to no end.
“As you are aware, NANTA embarked on empathy visits to all the foreign airlines to share in their pains and rob minds on engaging government through the Ministry of Aviation and the CBN, to readily find solutions to payment and release of the trapped funds.”