The International Air Transport Association (IATA), on Monday, said $1.68 billion belonging to foreign airlines are currently trapped in Africa.
Speaking at the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) 55th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Entebbe, Uganda, IATA’s regional vice president of Africa and Middle East, Kamil Al Alwadi, said the trapped fund hit $1.68 billion at the end of September, 2023.
The countries holding on to the foreign airlines funds are Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Angola and Zimbabwe.
IATA attributed trapped funds as one of the major issues plaguing aviation in Africa, describing the numbers as alarming with it having a huge and devastating impact on connectivity.
He said since 2018, a significant amount of blocked funds have been repatriated from Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe through working with the respective governments.
Alawadhi emphasised the severe impact on connectivity and economies, urging governments to prioritise aviation and find sustainable solutions.
“Aviation is capital intensive. Cash flow is key for airlines’ business sustainability – when airlines are not able to repatriate their funds, it severely impacts their operations and their decisions on where to fly.
“But the risk of blocked funds is not just limited to airlines; the negative impact extends to the countries blocking the funds. It impacts the country’s economy and its connectivity, and it hurts investor confidence and reputation. Aviation is not only an economic enabler; it is a pillar of modern economies,” the IATA chief said.
Governments, he said, must prioritise aviation and find sustainable solutions in the clearing of blocked funds. He said IATA would continue to offer its support in any way they can.
The IATA Chief lamented the state of aviation infrastructure in the continent, stressing that the facilities come with a high price tag; user charges across the continent are 8% higher than the industry average.
He disclosed that infrastructure charges must be set at levels that are fair, justified, and reflective of a value service proposition for airlines and passengers, adding that efforts through a pan-Africa fuel campaign have resulted in charges reductions in Chad, the Ivory Coast, and Zambia over the last five years.
Statistics show that Niamey, Niger Republic tops the list by charging passengers $162 on regional departure in African airports, followed by Monrovia (Liberia) $145; Guinea Bissau $137; Dakar, Senegal $116; Douala, Cameroon $115; Bangui $111; Freetown, Sierra Leone $109 and Nigeria $100.
International travellers at Bamako, Mali, Antananarivo, Madagascar, Cotonou, Benin Republic, Kinshasa, and Zaire pay $99; $91, $88, and $77 respectively. In Accra, Ghana it costs $77, N’djamena $68, Djibouti $67, Cairo $467, Lome, Togo $62, Entebbe, Uganda $57. Charges by other African nations oscillate between $50 and $3.