CBN debunks restriction of forex to airlines

  • Flays astronomical fares by foreign carriers

The claim by airlines that scarcity of foreign exchange has made their operations difficult has been debunked, as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) disclosed it has been selling to carriers through their banks.



The apex bank noted that part of the strategy has been to identify key sectors and industries that will drive growth and curtail excessive forex demand, adding that airlines have been buying through their banks at the interbank rate.

Spokesman for the CBN, Isaac Okoroafor, said: “I am sure if you go through the published statements of sale by the banks you will find this.

What is not possible now however is for CBN to meet just any demand by some of these airlines.”

He corroborated the position of the outgoing President of National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NANTA), Alhaji Aminu Agoha on the astronomical cost of air tickets especially by foreign airlines.

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Buttressing his claim, he said a look at the advertised airfares of these airlines, shows a huge hike in flight tickets by almost 100 per cent, describing it as curious despite easy access to foreign exchange made available to them.

His words, “ Is it not curious to note that some of them have their business class fares as low as about N600,000, while others put theirs at close to N2millon. Can you imagine that?

We all need to understand that there’s no way we will collect all our reserves to satisfy just few businesses while other ones suffer. “I don’t know where they got the number of 2000 workers they are parodying but this threat to sack workers is very unfair and this seeming blackmail is not going to print dollars overnight.”

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They claimed that the difficulty in repatriating their huge money out of the country totalling over $1 billion could force them to take the decision. Agoha stated that the alarming and dangerous situation needs an urgent attention, adding that the travel industry is fast losing revenue, while travel agencies are closing shops.

To him, job losses in the travel sector would further increase the number of unemployment figure in the country with the added dangers that comes with unemployment.

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He called on the Federal Government to urgently look into this situation with a view to rectifying it. He stated that already, as a result of that, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airline are taking desperate measures by removing lower fares from their display and offering same to travel agencies that are able to remit funds to them in United States dollars.

“Other airlines are threatening to follow suit. We at NANTA are very worried about this situation and would like the Federal Government to call the erring airlines to order as the legal currency for trading in Nigeria is the Naira.”

Wole Shadare