Foreign airlines operating in Nigeria have again lamented that over 90 per cent of their $783m trapped funds have remained unpaid. The airlines stated this during a stakeholders’ forum convened by the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, in Lagos recently.

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The Chairman of International Airline Operators, Mr Chima Kingsley, said that while international banks had received some funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria that only accounted for a fraction, less than 10 per cent of the trapped funds.

“The bulk of the blocked funds are with Nigerian commercial banks. The bulk of the money has not been paid,” he said.

President Bola Tinubu two weeks ago had promised to clear the estimated $7bn outstanding foreign exchange obligations of the Federal Government on forex forwards contracts owed to commercial banks.

Meanwhile, Domestic carriers, represented by the Chairman of United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo, highlighted their struggles, with trapped funds and limited access to forex impacting their operations.

He cited examples, including aircraft maintenance fees accumulating due to the inability to source forex for payments.

The Area Manager of West and Central Africa for IATA, Dr Samson Fatokun, underscored the need to reduce operating costs in the Nigerian aviation sector, advocating for sector-specific support.