The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has stated that Bilateral Air Services Agreements, BASA, never made it obligatory for them to provide Foreign Exchange, FX, for repatriation of foreign airlines’ income.

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This is coming against the backdrop of reports that the Federal Government is not honoring its BASA with foreign airlines in the repatriation of their incomes.

Foreign airlines collect Naira for their tickets to customers and exchange the same for foreign currencies for their operations. But recently they said they have been unable to get the exchange executed through the official foreign exchange market due to scarcity of foreign exchange resources.

However, while reacting to the airlines’ FX pressure, CBN Governor, Godwin Emiefele, 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 pressure 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 that they should freely obtain such FX from the Exporters and importers’ Window.

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“Notwithstanding, CBN will continue to treat airlines with priority and would clear the backlog but that they should ask their banks to obtain FX for them from the I & E Window.”

Meanwhile, the foreign airlines have raised an alarm that they are yet to receive over 50 percent or $265 million of the trapped funds to settle outstanding ticket sales.

According to the National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies, NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye, “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.

“In between these strangulating circumstances, the Airlines withdrew lower inventories across the board, selling at the highest possible openings as a way to cushion their funds being trapped.

“As usual with them, their response which we could describe as ‘High Fare Pandemic’, is solely targeted at Nigeria and Nigerians, and cannot be seen anywhere in Africa even in countries where they also have their funds being trapped.

“It is sad that Nigerians have to buy tickets to the tune of three to four million naira and be charged as high as one million naira to change travel dates even on tickets bought before this issues began.

“This is unacceptable, exploitative, and hostile to the survival of Nigerian aviation downstream sector and to which we call for sanity and return to the best inventory practices and deployment.”